Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Future Of The Republican Congress Lies In The Past

The Republican Party is still on its victory lap over this year's elections, but their future is not set in stone. Polls recently released show the public's doubt that the GOP will offer any improvements and the Republicans still have to get over their differences (tea party, establishment, moderates, etc.) in order to make things work.

I found this article by John Harkinson on Mother Jones that I thought was interesting - he points to an election that sounds surprisingly similar to the midterm elections, as well as what happened afterwards.
In an unprecedented recall election, voters who were incensed by California's energy crisis swept out the establishment Democratic governor, Gray Davis, and replaced him with a political outsider who pledged to cut taxes, root out "waste, fraud, and abuse," and say "hasta la vista" to liberal special interests. Sound familiar? Now, of course, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is as unpopular as Gray Davis was during the recall. And California voters saw no reason on Tuesday to believe that Meg Whitman would turn out any differently. One nifty ad juxtaposed video clips of Schwarzenegger and Whitman mouthing off the exact same talking points.

Schwarzenegger's failures aren't entirely his fault; he's been stymied by opposition from ideologues in his own party. Although Republicans make up only about a third of the state legislature, they wield an outsized influence over the state budget and taxes, which both require a two-thirds supermajority to become law. Pathologically unwilling to compromise, Republicans in the legislature have repeatedly spiked budget negotiations, forcing the state to allow its credit rating to be downgraded and even issue IOU checks to its workers in order to provide basic services.

This might be what tea party/Republican rule looks like in America between now and 2012. Many of the incoming Republican freshmen see a mandate to obstruct the Democratic economic agenda in almost any way possible. And as I've noted, Rand Paul alone could substantially freeze legislation and appointments in the already glacially slow-to-act US Senate.

But the California experience also suggests that none of this will last. Fed up with the state's fiscal gridlock, voters passed a referendum yesterday that stripped the GOP of its cherished supermajority requirement for passing a budget. They decided that hothead outsiders might not accomplish as much as veteran legislators (Governor-elect Jerry Brown and returning Senator Barbara Boxer are both long-time politicians). And they held the line against a substantial GOP takeover of House seats and an assault on the state's groundbreaking climate change law. If California is any indication, the Republican wildfire of 2010 will be hot, but it won't last long enough to keep the tea pot boiling.
I look forward to seeing what the future brings...


  1. Nive analysis Midnight Reviewer. Everyone I know personally from California is center to ultra lefty. I wondered how the righties got so much power to obstruct.

  2. In Florida the GOP have been able to maintain control through redistricting (hopefully that will end soon).

    I assume the problem is that in places like California, you have a lot of outside money flowing into these races, and unfortunately Americans are stupid. The vast majority of people I know don't vote, have no interest in voting, can't name a single politician, and can't go into detail about some legislative initiatives. I admit it is a lot of hard work learning the issues but people are lazy and so they will take what is spoon-fed to them, and the right-wing media has a virtual monopoly on spoons.

    I am a moderate Republican. I feel a constant need to continually state that because at one time moderation was a blessing - not a curse. I have some "conservative" views and some "liberal" views. I am fearful of what the tea party promises. In my opinion, and I'm sure many will agree, Obama has been a centrist. I think he has been to giving in working with the GOP and allowed this far-right opposition to grow.

    I have been a little dissatisfied with the Obama administration - I wish more could have been done, but when compared with what was done and what the GOP had planned, I am happy with what we got and hope the future brings more changes.

    When Schwarzenegger ran for office, I was open to the idea. I figured it was worth a shot, but I think the only thing this article misses out on is that Schwarzenegger would at least move to the center on some issues - the teabaggers seem the only direction to move would be to the far right...


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