By Graham Glover –
Like most of you, I’m thrilled that the political season is over. No more campaign commercials, emails, phone calls, or prognostications. The politicking is finally done, along with the incessant debating. Now it’s time to govern.
Unlike most of you, I can’t wait for the next political season to begin. I love campaigns and I’m practically giddy about the 2016 presidential election. I wish the prospective candidates would announce their intentions today. Let’s get this party started!
But for now, we have a historic election to consider. The consequences of last night are significant. For the first time in 8 years, the Republican Party controls both chambers of the United States Congress. Their margins in federal and state elections are larger than they have seen in almost a century. The newly elected Republicans come to Washington off the heels of campaigns that ran hard against President Obama and his agenda. The victory speeches last night promised change. The victorious candidates pledged to turn the political compass of the country around. Whether or not you consider last night’s results a political mandate (I do not), there is no doubt that the political pulse of Washington is about to look and sound very different.
I wonder though…what, if anything, will last night’s results really mean? What, if anything, will really change? Count me as skeptical. While I applaud the Republican Party’s electoral victories, I doubt their takeover of Congress will actually do much. If the GOP takes the White House in 2016 things could radically shift, but not now – not it today’s political climate.
For starters, I have zero confidence that Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell can negotiate with President Obama (and vice versa). I hope this speculation is proven wrong. For the sake of good governance and the well-being of our nation I hope I’m mistaken. But the past 6 years have given no indication that those currently in charge have any desire or ability to negotiate and work with one another. There is no Clinton-Gingrich or Regan-O’Neill pragmatism with these men. Senator McConnell promised to change the tune last night, but until I see it, I will not believe it.
Although you may not be ready, the 2016 presidential election will start very soon. And as soon as it does, both parties will do much to everything they can to protect their ultimate candidates from being too closely associated with anything radical coming out of the Congress or the White House. There will be a lot of rhetoric from our new Congress and the White House bully pulpit. Committees will undoubtedly pass pieces of legislation that make for good sound bites. They may even make it out of one or both chambers. The White House will continue to advance its agenda, even if that agenda has zero chance of being passed by the new majority in Congress. Bottom line, our president is a political lame duck and the Congress can’t do what it wants without the signature of President Obama. Gridlock is here and it’s not going anywhere.
This year’s elections proved that our nation is as divided as ever. The races across the country were divisive and pointed. There was no doubt that our parties do not agree on where our country is heading and what it should look like. Red or Blue – Americans do not agree on a lot of important and significant political issues. Credit the Republicans for offering a message the resonated with the voters this year. Obviously the electorate is not happy with the current political trajectory and the GOP knew this. They campaigned on it and rode their promise to change it to victory at the ballot box. The Republicans are today’s victors, but their agenda is not the agenda of many in our nation. Political division is as prevalent today as it’s ever been.
So now what? I have no idea. Is there anything the Congress and White House can agree on? Infrastructure? National Defense? A budget?
The elections are over. The Republicans have won. But I doubt much will change.