Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So much for the mandate

The Republicans are the minority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And to add insult to injury, President Bush has been forced to let Donald Rumsfeld go. Things couldn't get any worse for the Bush administration, could they? Without a doubt, Congress will start hearings on a wide variety of President Bush's policies with remarkably celerity. Not to mention that any laws that clear the House and Senate will lean to the Democratic side.

Since the Democrats have the clear majority in the House, they can pass practically any bill agreed to by most Democrats. Even if every Republican in the House voted against a bill approved by most Democrats, the bill would still pass. Then there is the quasi-majority held by Democrats in the Senate. If the Independents lean toward the Democrat's side of the fence, the Democrats will pass what comes from the House. Then, of course, the president will veto the Democrats' bills. Either that or he'll issue signing statements. Of course, since the Democrats have the House, they can hold hearings on that sort of thing, can't they? This is a lose-lose situation for the president. He can sign no laws and become a do-nothing president, or he can accompany each unfavorable law with a signing statement and very likely face the wrath of a bunch of wrinkly old men who don't like his style.

Ultimately, the current electoral situation is worst for the Republicans. I'm not talking strategy wise. This has got to be disheartening. They had the majority in Congress, and voters didn't like it. More than half the country wants Republicans to scram.How can that be?

Ultimately, the current electoral situation doesn't reflect on how well the Democrats campaigned but how badly the Republicans failed. Republicans had six years with the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House, and arguably the Supreme Court! They should have been able to go out there and tell the Democrats and the voters of America, "Look at all the great things we've done!" Instead, they had to defend themselves from Hurricane Katrina, Mark Foley, a failing Iraq war, and widespread corruption - present in both parties, I might add. The Republicans were the ones with power! They had the majority! They should have had a pristine record that they could show off to voters coming into the election cycle. Instead, they had to try to convince America that the Democrats would be even worse than the Republicans.

Clearly, this can mean only one thing: The Republicans lost because they had a lousy record. They had the majority, they had the incumbency, and they blew it. They had everything going for them, and it's their own damn fault they lost.

But what does that mean the Democrats should do?

Reach across the aisle.

As tempting as it is to pass bills that favor the Democrats, it would be the Democrats' fault if the president vetoed it. Their majority means that they have leverage, not power. If they don't work with Republicans, it will be their own damn fault when they have a hard time passing bills. Doing what the Republicans did would invalidate any moral high ground the Democrats have. Doing what the Republicans did would be Un-American. The Republicans for the last for yours and last two years especially have shut out the Democrats from negotiations and drafting of bills. The Republicans shut out one half of the country's representatives because they could. The Democrats were doing the same until the Republican majority rose in 1994.

If the Democrats want to stay in power, they have to understand that moderation is good. It is essential that they understand that no one party should ever have the power the Republicans had until now. If the Democrats were in the opposite situation, eventually the same thing would happen: The part would become very extreme without any opposition to bring them back to the center. Working with Republicans will not only keep both parties in check but allow Congress to pass bills that represent both Republicans and Democrats. Let's just hope the Democrats don't get big heads from this.

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