It’s worth repeating the message I wrote about earlier this week.
When the country was in a free fall in 2009, potentially facing a second Great Depression while two ground wars seemed to have no end, the leadership of the Republican Party decided to focus on finding a strategy to regain power rather than help the country through those major problems.
The chosen strategy was all-out opposition, to make sure there was no bipartisanship, believing the public would blame the guy in the White House.
It culminated last night with the GOP retaking the U.S. Senate and strengthening its majority in the House of Representatives.
They used the filibuster at an unprecedented level and disavowed supposed conservative principles whenever President Barack Obama embraced them, including voting against a fiscal commission they had been pushing once Obama agreed it was a good idea.
Our own Tom Rice, of the Seventh Congressional District, was most proud of essentially doing nothing, pushing a baseless lawsuit against the president. He knew enough voters here cared more about something that superficial than providing health care for the poor or bringing real jobs to a region that has one of the lowest average annual wages in the nation.
For that, they were rewarded by a conservative base that loathes Obama and was happy to see the GOP try to stymie him at every turn; disillusioned Democrats who can’t celebrate the administration’s long list of accomplishments because things aren’t yet perfect; and clueless “independents” who don’t seem to know - or care - who or what caused the gridlock they just want to go a way and decided to punish the person in the White House.
What does that mean for the next 2 years? It means the public has sent a strong message to the GOP that an all-out opposition play is the best way to keep the the party’s political future bright, and it sent a similar message to the Democratic Party, that hyper-partisanship, not compromise, is the way back to reclaiming control of Congress.
Let’s face it. In this new era of hyper-partisanship - driven mostly by a hard-right that believes compromise is a dirty cop out - the only way to avoid gridlock is to do the opposite of what many so-called moderates and independents believe we need, and that is to turn all control of Washington over to either party.
A split government in this environment simply means more gamesmanship.
Despite what many have now forgotten, the government got big things accomplished - the largest stimulus ever, health reform, financial reform, ending 2 ground wars and don’t ask don’t tell, etc. - during the first two years of Obama’s term when Democrats controlled the White House, Senate and House.
Here’s to hoping that in 2016, the American electorate somehow sees its way to doing something similar, giving all control to either the Democrats or the Republicans.
Over the next two years, because of what voters did last night, our only hope for big things getting done are politicians putting aside their short-term political fortunes - not something I’m willing to bet my life on.