On this morning’s Washington Journal program, one of the segments featured William Galston, a Brookings Institution Senior Fellow, discussing the topic of gridlock in Washington. A major focus of the discussion in the morning was immigration reform, and if you’re interested it might be worth watching the full 45 minutes.

But if you’re teaching gridlock in your government and politics class, here’s a gem of a clip that’s only about 90 seconds long.

William Galston speaking about gridlock on Washington Journal

Watch the clip here on the C-SPAN website or click on the screenshot above to follow through.

The question at the beginning of the clip is cut off a bit, but the host is asking him about President Obama’s promise to use the “phone and pen.” It might be worth defining this term for your students.

The clip is short and to the point. Unified government is exceedingly rare, and a state of divided government has only two potential outcomes: compromise or gridlock. It nicely emphasizes the centrality of compromise to the American political system.

There’s not a lot in there to pull apart and discuss with your students, so this is more of an informative video clip. Good for an introduction to a lesson on gridlock or for use in a flipped classroom or jigsaw to reinforce student’s content knowledge.

Two questions that might be worth discussing, depending on your students historical background knowledge:

  1. In the past four years, what examples of compromise have we seen in Washington? What examples of gridlock?
  2. In American history, when has government been unified? Did they get anything done?