As I write, the joys of election cycle 2014 draw to a close. Many predict that the Republican Party will gain control of the Senate; but we’ll have to wait and see. Beyond this election, I have serious doubts and worries about the coming nature of politics.
Even today, many pundits have no idea what the Republican Party stands for. The dominant narrative for this election cycle defines both parties by their relationship to anything that may or may not be coined ‘Obama’, the democrats supporting it and the republicans against it. Sure, the opposition party traditionally runs as an alternative to the party in power. But this election cycle seems to place existential value on either not being or being similar to the president. Historically parties ran on policy-oriented campaigns, but that practice seems non-existent in the grand scheme of 2014.
Despite how the campaigns were run, they will inevitably end; the question now is what can be expected from a Republican-controlled legislative branch. I share Norm Ornstein’s cynical outlook–Speaker John Boehner will have greater difficulty in moderating the growing presence of far off-center representatives and consequently, obstructionism is bound to spike. One can easily reach this conclusion before taking in to account recent statements by Mitch McConnell and Reince Priebus, McConnell promising to use funding and/or shutdowns to seek concessions from Obama, and Priebus stating:
“While I can’t speak for the legislature, I’m very confident we will stop that…We will do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen: Defunding, going to court, injunction. You name it. It’s wrong. It’s illegal. And for so many reasons, and just the basic fabric of this country, we can’t allow it to happen and we won’t let it happen.”
The probable conclusions of the 2014 midterm elections will put the United States on a crash course. This all or nothing political mentality will bleed over into different aspects of the government. There will be more aggressive and financially dangerous standoffs between the House and the White house. Nominations to key parts of the government like judgeships or replacing the attorney general could be entirely blocked. Massive reversals and backtracking might happen as massive bills like the Affordable Care Act will get replaced or remodeled, which would send shockwaves of uncertainty through the economy.
On the up side, if Republicans get control of Congress there may be the possibility of things getting done. But therein lies the other problem: most policies that Republicans would try to pass will die in the senate or by presidential veto. If you thought Republicans wasted too much time trying to accomplish something beyond possibility (like killing the ACA with Obama still in office and the Senate being Democratic), then you will be disappointed as 2014 will refresh desires to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Which will inevitably fail, though leaders will remind us that these are symbolic votes.
I harbor no illusions; if the parties were reversed I would say the same thing. Beyond 2014 will be less productive and more mind numbing than previous years. Many fear that this election will turn, somehow, the previously least productive congress in history to an even less productive waste of taxpayer money. And sadly I agree.
Taylor Tielke, 2015, is a politics blogger for the Concordian. He is a junior from Yankton, South Dakota and at Concordia he studies political science, global studies and history. Besides the Concordian, Taylor is involved with Concordia Forensics, peer mentoring and Concordia’s Secular Student Community. In his free time Taylor reads the news avidly, works out and enjoys tea. Taylor finds politics, political philosophy, religion and foreign policy particularly intriguing topics.