13 Nov GOP Takeover – What is the Path Forward after the Mid-Term Elections?
First, it is important to acknowledge that there is a deep dissatisfaction among the electorate with the work of members of Congress and President Barack Obama. Although the GOP seized control of the Senate and expanded its majority in the House to historic levels and are to be commended for this accomplishment, I don’t believe that it is a license to overstep in governing. Alternatively, it is an opportunity for compromise on issues that could move our nation forward, including student loan debt, education policy, energy independence, corporate tax reform, and transportation infrastructure. I concur with Senator Bob Corker’s (R-TN) observation that his party’s gains are partially tied to the “disappointment and disillusionment with the Obama administration” and that he does not view the GOP success in the elections as a major endorsement of the Republican Party at this point. In summary, this was a wave election not a mandate election.
Instead, I believe that the new political environment on Capitol Hill presents an opportunity that must be seized quickly by the president and Congress to agree on several issues that provide the greatest opportunity for bipartisan action. The results of the mid-term elections indicated to many that policies of President Obama were strongly repudiated and that Democrat candidates failed to distance themselves from the president. However, I think voting with the President and then running away from him reeked of desperation and created its own problems for candidates similar to 1994.
As we approach the 2016 presidential election it appears that the Republicans may be shifting its make up and demographic with new members that are younger, female, and representative of diverse backgrounds. It is also interesting to note that gubernatorial wins in traditional blue states such as Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts, and many other victories at the state level have provided a solid foundation for Republicans to stay in power if they continue to recruit strong candidates, provide them with strong education and training, and expand the party’s campaign ground game.
The Democrats must regroup and work to advance issues such as the minimum wage increase and additional support for the middle class in the aftermath of stinging defeats. The president must strike a conciliatory tone with the Republicans to achieve key legislative victories for both parties while the Republicans must step up and produce some tangible legislative successes. There is now more pressure on Republicans to work with the President and their Democratic colleagues in Congress to govern since they own Congress and run the risk of being targeted for ouster by voters in the 2016 and 2018 elections if they believe that they are seeing the same old partisan inaction that has crippled Washington and adversely impacted many Americans, especially with a new majority in charge.
The American people would be pleasantly surprised to see meaningful action and productivity in Washington in the coming weeks and months. Maybe changes in the leadership at the top of the respective parties could give Congress the fresh jumpstart it needs with new players who may be willing to work across the aisle without the past political roadblocks that the current leaders are likely to continue to face. Extreme partisanship and playing the blame game as a result of intransigence is not a winning formula for either party to appeal to an unsettled electorate.
Any path forward must begin to break down the walls of gridlock, include agreement on several key issues that could be wins for both parties and the country, and focus on policies that are inclusive and beneficial to the citizens of our diverse and great nation.