Close window  |  View original article

Republican False Dawn?

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

By Petrarch  |  November 5, 2014

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.