Would the GOP Actually Benefit from Winning Majorities in 2010?
Here's why conservatives should root against elected Republican majorities in the 112th United States Congress.
February 28, 2010 - 12:00 am
In reading some recent political percolations in the starboard half of the blogosphere, a conservative need not worry … right? The president and his statist lieutenants in the House and Senate are racing to the left faster than Jimmie Johnson at Talladega. What could go wrong? It’s a matter of time before conservatives take back the House and filibuster Senator Dick Durbin’s ferocious whip. Time to cheer!
Some campaign handicappers have even started musing that majorities in the House and Senate may be quickly turning purple-red.
As an attorney who has studied the concept of the separation of powers and proper governmental equilibriums, I am certain that one political party (especially one run by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) in complete power and overtly dictating the agenda of a neophyte president will always end poorly. It was an empirical certainty that the public would respond negatively to the type of backroom deals and political payoffs (with our tax dollars!) included in the closely watched Democrat health care bill.
Fast-forward to the present day or A.B. (After Brown), and most sane Americans can take solace in knowing that congressional realignment is a foregone conclusion. And it is here that I posit this article’s thesis: conservatives should root against elected Republican majorities in the 112th United States Congress.
Should the Republicans control one or both ends of the Capitol building, gridlock will be the buzzword in 2011 for a variety of reasons.
First, if the Republicans were to miraculously win a majority in the Senate, Democrats would all put on their best Joe Lieberman masks and filibuster every proposal Leader McConnell proposes. And with this threat of perpetual obstruction, I believe wholeheartedly that every Republican senator sans Messrs. Coburn and DeMint will acquiesce and pass weak legislation with Democrats, wrongly reading their new majorities as a mandate to “work across the aisle.”
Second, regardless of who is in the majority in the House next year, no meaningful legislation will get passed. Period. In 2011, every surviving Blue Dog will buck their party’s leadership given the large and increasingly angry 2012 electorate waiting to punish Washington even more. Further, with an ever-increasing polarized House, hypothetical Republican-lead legislation would not even receive a passing glance from the White House. Though there is credence in the theory that a president’s veto draws that starkest line in the proverbial sand, reality will always trump theory and Republicans would take some of the blame in 2012 if they couldn’t work with the president.
Third and most importantly, the very reason for the Republican-conservative resurgence lies within the fact that they are in the oppositional minority. From the mildly successful tea party movement to fiscally conservative independents, a majority of the public disapproves of Washington’s trajectory. Though House and Senate members currently poll much lower than President Obama, I contend that the extent of the president’s disapproval originates in his ties to the Washington establishment. Thus, it is politically expedient to be on the same side as the majority of the electorate: disapproving of the totality of Washington’s political composition.
As we all know, the 1994 congressional electorate promoted Rep. Gingrich and Sen. Dole to leaders and dragged President Clinton back to the political center. Many conservative pundits long for this to again occur. But why? After 1994, Clinton was easily reelected based on the centrist proposals that he agreed to enact with a more conservative Congress. And look what his second term brought us: Monica Lewinsky, Elian Gonzalez, many more White House visits by Yasser Arafat, and (most disastrously) weak counterterrorism policies.
Future Republican majorities would only help improve President Obama’s fading reelection chances. An electoral mandate for Republicans to pass something with an unpopular president would undeniably lead to boiled-down, pork-laden bills necessary to eclipse a veto. This ineffective legislation would cause the public to spread the political blame to both parties and kill future conservative policies. Obama’s ideological principles will never allow him to vote with a conservative Congress. Thus, any compromise bill will help compound our country’s problems rather then fix them.
As much as conservatives long for a 1994 redux, I believe that we should rather focus on 2012. We’ve already had 2008’s equivalent of Jimmy Carter; let’s concentrate our efforts on electing 2012’s equivalent of President Reagan as his successor.