Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Pachyderms and testosterone

The GOP takes the Senate. Already, people are pontificating on how bad this is going to be. Oddly, I don't hear any claims of voter fraud in this election. Nor do I see any claims of gerrymandering by any sitting Congressperson. Yet, I have a fair amount of suspicion that both have played a part in this election.

So now that the GOP has control of both houses, can we expect even a modicum of compromise? I doubt it. I think we have every reason to expect the GOP to conduct a scorched earth campaign to stifle and stymie President Obama. Compromise is out of the question at this point now that they have both houses. At the next round of budget negotiations, the odds of a government shutdown are at the very least, even, but I'd say they are likely. The GOP will give no quarter.

Remember that this is class warfare brought on by a party with a very short memory. Do they remember Eisenhower? Probably not. Hardly anyone remembers that the GOP and the Democrats once agreed on many ideals and goals. But today, the GOP disagrees with the President any chance they get, even if they once agreed with him. Almost as a reflexive response. Why? It's fashionable for them to disagree with a black president.

In this election, I think that one of the biggest problems is that the distinction between Democrats and Republicans has become less clear. Many Democrats are very conservative compared to their forebears of the 1960s and 1970s. We don't have many Democrats who are willing to fight the big fights like they used to. They do not appear to stand for traditional liberal values anymore. Sure, the are outspoken on some issues, but in the main, they've become pretty conservative. Remember, many Democrats voted for the war in Iraq. Compare Elizabeth Warren to traditional Democrats and to her peers and you'll see what I mean. She is about as close as you're going to get to a traditional liberal Democrat.

The second issue is gerrymandering. How else can we explain the results of 2012 where the president wins by popular vote and the House and the Senate both add more GOP seats? I believe that is still happening and that there are so many safe seats that many voters have become disenfranchised. They do not believe that they can unseat someone they don't like anymore.

Fortunately, the GOP does not have supermajorities in either house. That means they cannot override a veto. But they will continue to stall appointments and in general, make life very difficult for the president. Some people have openly questioned the sincerity of the GOP. Do they want to govern or do they want to fight?

If they want to fight, perhaps Obama has the courage and the wisdom to do what Clinton did in the 1990s and give the GOP the room they need to make a fool of themselves. But with so many safe seats, that might not matter anymore. Between big money in politics, safe seats everywhere and increasing polarization, I wonder if we can even restore our democracy from the oligarchy we now have.
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