Republican False Dawn?

Celebrate, but let's hold the Republicans' feet to the fire this time.

So it looks like the Republicans have taken back control of the Senate, and Harry Reid must endure his too-long-delayed removal from the office of Senate Majority Leader.  Even the liberal media was left with no choice but to call it a "wave" election, with Dems being turfed from office all across the fruited plain.

Most importantly, it's one in the eye for Obama.  As he himself said:

I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.

Thank you for providing this moment of clarity, Mr. President.  The policies of the Obama administration were indeed on the ballot, because the President put them there even though the American people were and are nauseated by them.  Given the chance to make those feelings plain in the voting booth, they did so in spades.

Are we, therefore, now going to finally have a real recovery, a resurgence of limited Constitutional government and an end to unaccountable corruption and cronyism?

Of course not, and anyone that thinks we will is hopelessly naive.

Of Power and Boldness

First, let's take a brief refresher course on American government, and recollect that Congress - even both houses combined - cannot pass laws all by itself unless you can get a 2/3 majority of both of them.

The now-ending "do-nothing Congress" actually did a fair bit of legislating.  It just never went anywhere, because the House passed countless bills that Harry Reid killed in the Senate without their ever receiving a vote.

That won't happen now that the Republicans control the Senate, but it won't make much difference; the bills will just die in the Oval Office instead.  Yes, the House can pass an Obamacare repeal, and the Senate may even concur; does anyone seriously imagine that Mr. Obama is going to sign it?

The same goes for almost anything else that conservatives would like to see accomplished.  Any legislative changes Mr. Obama doesn't like will be ignored.  It's as simple as that.

Now, it's possible to override a veto, but that's wildly unlikely.  Partisanship being as it is, there's no way that Democrats would side with the Republicans to push forward the Republican agenda.

There is one effective power that Congress does have, and that's the budget.  Theoretically, the President is not allowed to spend money Congress has not authorized, which is why we get those periodic "shutdowns" when large chunks of the bureaucracy get an extra paid vacation.

Unfortunately, the Stupid Party has never figured out how to manage the message so as to turn a shutdown to their advantage.  Mr. Obama's Democrats are world-class masters of the "Washington Monument strategy," in which they shut things down in the most obstructive, obnoxious way possible so as to inconvenience the maximum number of voters as punishment for their temerity.  The media, of course, is unanimously onside with bigger spending and condemns the shutdown with one voice.  Republicans take a political bath every time.

Which is why boldness matters.  Do any of the newly elected Republicans have the guts to risk their newfound high office with a big fight on principle?  Do any of them have the slightest clue how to communicate with the American people in the manner of Reagan?  Your derisory snickering is answer enough.

It is far more likely that the establishment Republicans and Chamber-of-Commerce types will combine with the Democrats to push through an amnesty bill, than that the Republicans will be able to effectively grandstand and stop Mr. Obama's agenda in his tracks.

Death of a Thousand Cuts

Does this mean that we aren't glad of the Republican victory or think it will make no difference?  Not at all.

Just by virtue of the fact that the Democrats are no longer in charge of the Senate, there are quite a lot of bad things that now will not happen, primarily the confirmation of even more far-leftist judges.  That by itself is a major improvement with consequences for many years to come.

While there's no reason to believe that Republicans have either the cojones or the mental discipline to win a toe-to-toe fight with the White House, there is ample opportunity to kneecap and humiliate everything from that end of Pennsylvania Avenue.  Controlling Congress means controlling Congressional committees.  That means hearings under oath, subpoenas of embarrassing documents, even contempt citations.  It's an article of faith on the right that Mr. Obama's administration is riddled with corruption both financial and political; we now have the opportunity to find out in full and in public.

Congressman Darrell Issa has done yeoman work in chasing malfeasance from the Fast and Furious scandal to the IRS targeting of Tea Partiers.  Now he can do more as his colleagues in the Senate can help him.

Will this tactic change the nature of this administration?  No, but it will still make a difference.  A bureaucrat testifying under oath before a hostile Congress is a bureaucrat who's too busy fighting to save his pension to worry about stealing even more of our freedoms on that particular day.

An administration under the microscope is an administration which will not so easily have its pick of the most competent and effective personnel.  Many of the most experienced staff have already departed and more are on the way.  The ones which remain may have the same far-leftist views of their predecessors, but not the knowledge to implement them as effectively.

What's more, the Democrats have long relied on the youngest voters to be staunch supporters - they haven't yet experienced enough of life to realize the harm of big government.  Except that many of today's young people have suffered under a stagnant economy, publicly depressed by big-government overreaches like Obamacare and anti-energy regulations.  For the first time in forever, a majority of the young wanted this Republican Congress just elected.

An endless series of investigations and hearings will keep the failures of big government firmly in focus for the American people young and old.  The Democrats are the party of government; if Americans return to viewing government as the problem, the Democrats will pay the price.

Cross Your Fingers

Unless, of course, the Stupid Party does what it's best at and snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

If this new Republican Congress goes ahead with "bipartisan" deals that only grow government and shrink freedom, if taxes and spending continue to rise, if corruption and overreach continue unabated - then the Republicans won't benefit in 2016 from voter distaste.  When the electorate is unenthusiastic, that gives Democrats the advantage due to their being the "default" choice promulgated by the massed media, education, and entertainment complexes that rule our society.

Have our Republicans learned from their past mistakes?  There's little reason to hope that they have, but neither do we have reason for complete despair.  There is a chance, and that's better than we had before.

Now we just need to keep the heat turned up all the way, to ensure there's no backsliding.  Now, the real work begins.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

"Does this mean that we aren't glad of the Republican victory or think it will make no difference? Not at all"

It will, in fact, make no difference at all. You pointed out one of the reasons - the oval office, and the ideologue that resides within it.

The other reason is because it's... the Republican Party. **We** did not win anything. There is no "our victory" here. The RP has been in power many times before, and in better scenarios (remember Bush 43's first two years?), and absolutely nothing was done. The RP leadership agrees with Obama on amnesty, healthcare, debt ceilings and a hundred other things. The RP leadership's greatest fear is not the left but the right - the Tea Party.

Voters have just shown the RP that there's no need to change their values, principles, policies, voting positions or partnerships. The RP has continued to side with government and media, over their base, and the base put them right back in power.

November 5, 2014 10:16 AM

Krauthammer said something last night that I've wondered about myself. He said that all the leftward trends of the past 10 years were based on the charisma of Obama. All the enacted legislation and political wins we've seen were riding the coattails of that charisma but the young crowd then twenty and stupid, are now in their mid-30s and its all worn off. It was easy to hate the Bush Machine and love the Obama Hope And Change. Krauthammer said it was basically an era that is now over and the situation will correct over the next 4-5 years as the electorate gets over Mr. First Black President and the meaningless that went along with it.

November 5, 2014 2:42 PM

I wonder about that too. Have all the 21-30-year-olds still living in Mom's basement put two and two together? Have they realized that big-government socialism simply doesn't work for them on the most personal level?

I tend to think they really haven't, they've just gotten disenchanted with Obama's transparent lies. Nobody likes being lied to, not even a leftist. So they stayed home this election.

Is that the same as voting conservative? Hardly. But at least it gave the right just enough breathing space to squeak out a victory.

And that's the most disturbing thing: In a collapsed, stagnant economy, with us losing wars everywhere and a visibly corrupt and incompetent government - the Republicans can still only barely win in the purple states? This "wave" wasn't the tenth part of the absolute devastation that Democrat incompetence deserves. Just how bad would things have to get for Dems to be turfed out in California? I don't even want to imagine that.

November 5, 2014 4:42 PM

The reason California liberals don't toss Dems out, in the wake of so much failure, is because the alternative is mostly the same.

I think most 20 and 30 year olds really don't see much difference between the D's and R's. I might just be projecting my own cynicism here, but the majority looks across the aisle and goes "Really, them -- that's who I'd have to vote for?" I'm asked to trade my hypocrite for yours.

It's not a vote between Nancy Pelosi or Ron Paul. That would provide a clear distinction one could really sink their teeth into and ponder the effects of. The vote is usually Bill Clinton versus Mit Romney. Or Al Gore and John McCain. Remember "turd sandwich"?

November 5, 2014 4:59 PM

As Reagan put it, and we've quoted many times: No pale pastels, but bold colors.

EVERY SINGLE new Republican Congressperson that defeated a sitting Democrat yesterday, ran on a platform of "Repeal Obamacare." THAT is a bold color, and a good start.

November 5, 2014 6:18 PM

Well sure, but so did all the milktoast Republicans. Mitch McConnell drones on and on about repealing Obamacare to any conservative radio station that lets him. So did Romney in the '12 campaign. Do you think any of them actually **will** though? Take bold action to draft paperwork, gather money, yell down the media lackeys? Heck no. They'll just talk about traction and political realities and whatever.

November 5, 2014 6:23 PM
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