Saturday, November 08, 2014

Yin-Yang D.C.? You’re Kidding, Right? (Reprising 2006)

So Republicans won big, and Washington is once again evenly divided--Democratic President, Republican Congress. Time for yin-yang: compromise and work together for the good of the nation?

GOP guru Karl Rove writes:
Republicans shouldn’t rest on their laurels or reach for last year’s congressional playbook. Voters expect constructive action, not obstructionism. They want Washington to work and lawmakers to get things done. Their expectations are low because their distrust of politicians is high. So surprise them. The rewards will be great if the GOP shows it has a governing agenda.
Republicans should go big, pushing a comprehensive reform agenda even if the president objects. Republicans should try working with Mr. Obama to forge legislative compromises. But if he refuses to engage, Republicans should move, although they must be willing to defend their proposals with conviction.
In other words, “no ‘yin-yang’ here!  Republicans are aiming to occupy the White House in 2016, with or without Obama’s help.”

Here’s what I wrote in 2006, after a similar opposite party (Democratic) triumph over an increasingly unpopular president (Bush). With words changed to update the entry; it reads well for 2014:
yin-yang unity is not to be. Why?
• The country is pretty evenly divided into two warring camps. The Republicans [first] nationalized congressional elections in 2002 and 2004, turning out Democrats for being wrong on the War on Terror. Now we have a [seventh] straight nationalized election, this time [again] by the [Republicans] running in every section of the country against [Obama] and [a poor economy]. Nationalized elections and polarization are the result of efficient political operations that find and bring home their voters. These nationalized elections are here to stay, and will keep America divided.
• [2016] will shape the next two years in Washington. [Republicans] in Congress aren’t interested in passing the kind of legislation [Obama] might sign. They’re interested in electing a [Republican] president in [2016], so they can truly take over. Every issue they push through Congress will be designed to divide [Democrats] from the national majority, so that [Republican] control will replace divided government. Every Congressional investigation of [Obama] administration wrongdoing will reach for the same objective. Taking over Congress is just a first step to true power.
• Only united government produces real change. The last [great] burst of real Democratic creativity came in 1964-65, when in the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination, Democrats had the full control they needed to pass tax reform, civil rights legislation, Medicare, and the National Education Act. Reagan had a burst of creativity in 1981-82, because a Republican Senate and Southern “Blue Dog” House Democrats provided the majority needed to cut taxes and the size of government. [I]n 1995[-96], [Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich] united to produce welfare reform and the balanced budgets that turbocharged our late 1990’s economy. Clinton needed Republicans to give him a record to run on for re-election. And Gingrich fully understood he was aiding Clinton’s re-election. [Today's Republican] leaders, unlike Gingrich, hope for their own president in [2016]. Once everything is [red], [Republicans] will achieve their next burst of creativity.
Unified rule can blow up in your face.  To hold [Democrats] together [in 2009-2010 when Democrats had all the power, Obama hewed] to . . . the views of his extremes ([Democrats pushed] programs supported by [only Democrats--their “stimulus” and especially Obamacare]). Extremism ended up costing [Democrats] the [next] election. The same thing happened in 1993-94, the [previous] time Democrats controlled everything.
And here’s a bigger “but.” We have discovered another regular pattern--Republicans do better in low-turnout mid-term elections, Democrats do better in presidential years. It is markedly less likely that the Republicans will win in 2016, following their Tuesday mid-term triumph than it was that Democrats would win in 2008 following their (rare) mid-term victory in 2006. When their base shows up at the polls, Democrats win the popular vote--five of the last six presidential elections.

Republicans have their work cut out for them in 2016.

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