Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The GOP Majority

What happens when a party that hates government gains control of the government?  I’m afraid that we’re about to find out.  Political pundits predict that the Tea Party Republican coalition will take control of the House, and the Democratic margin in the Senate will be reduced to a few votes.

First, the Senate.  Even if the split is something like 53-47 in favor of the Democrats, we will really have a Republican-controlled Senate.  Senators like Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln (if she is re-elected), and Joe Lieberman are acolytes of the Republican philosophy, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe become a Republican if it would solidify his power base.  Even with a near super-majority in the current term, the Senate has become so dysfunctional that it is irrelevant.

So what will happen in the House?  First, with their new-found subpoena power, look for endless expensive investigations of dubious “crimes” such as their witch hunt which brought down ACORN.  There are those who say that the GOP will start impeachment proceedings against Barack Obama, but I don’t think they will.  The public is sick and tired of partisan bickering, and charging the president with spurious “crimes and misdemeanors” and spending millions of dollars on an impeachment proceeding that would never be consummated in the Senate would backfire.  The Republicans may be mean-spirited and in the pocket of Corporate interests, but they are not stupid.  Bill Clinton was impeached during an economic boom.  Proceedings against Obama with today’s problems would not go over well with a public that expects the GOP to solve problems, not create more.  Instead, the Republicans will be happy for numerous small victories that play well with their base.  Their pending control of the House will set the cause of gay rights back a decade.  Unions will be eviscerated, and the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” will increase as the middle class disappears under the Republican economic policies that caused the Great Bush Recession.  More jobs will be sent to China and Vietnam.  The Internet will become another tool of corporate interests as Net Neutrality becomes a thing of the past.  Tea party crazies like Michele Bachman will assume leadership positions as Speaker Boehner welcomes them (and their corporate benefactors) into the fold. Other witch hunts will result from the Republicans' new-found power, and these will be closely coordinated with Fox's reporting for maximum impact.

So what can Democrats and Progressives do?  First, those in power, including the President, need to grow a spine and stand up to the draconian and regressive policies of the GOP.  This needs to be integrated into a much more effective messaging initiative to help the American public get past the GOP cheerleading of the media and start to vote in their own self-interest.  And Democrats need to establish an effective grass-roots organization in all 50 states to start to turn things around in 2012.  This will be more difficult than in 2008 because for the most part, the GOP will control redistricting, voting machines, and much of the media.  But there’s strength in numbers, and if the Democrats start on November 3rd, there’s still time to save the country.

One of the closest and most watched House races in the country is in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District between incumbent Democrat John Adler and ex-footballer Jon Runyan.  Adler won the seat two years ago and is the first Democrat to represent this area since the 1880s.  Runyan is a Chris Christie protégé and buys in to the Tea Party platform on most, but not all, issues.  I’ll be covering this evening’s Adler party on BlueJersey.com and tweeting under the deciminyan account.

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