Just under two weeks after Democrats lost control of the United States Senate, giving Republicans complete control of the Congress, we are getting a preview into what the relationship between Congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama may be like during the last two years of the Obama Administration. The first few days after the elections yielded “kumbaya” on both sides. But that, of course, has quickly dissipated amid actions planned or taken by President Obama.
Talks of working across the aisle and compromise between the president and the new Republican leadership started immediately after the election. President Obama said that he heard the voters who participated in the 2014 elections, and will heed the message of the voters by working with Republicans. He also told Congressional leaders that he would only judge ideas by their merits as opposed to whether or not they are Republican or Democratic.
On the other side, we heard statements by the new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner that they will work with the president to find areas of agreement. In addition, talks of government shutdowns, lawsuits, and impeachments died down and was replaced by more conciliatory language. While the thought of collaboration sounded nice, it was never a reality and we saw the return of what is poised to be the beginnings of a dreadful two years of government deadlock.
Republicans are upset with President Obama for his plans to finally maintain his promise to the Latino community to assist undocumented Americans via executive order. In addition, they are not happy with the president’s climate agreement with China and with his net neutrality plan. President Obama was stalled a bit due to the global events that started in the summer and the midterm campaigns, but has pledged to take whatever action he can with a phone and a pen, when Congress fails to act. We are now seeing the resurgence of that promise to the American people.
Now, the Real Talk…
After putting some deep thought into this, I think that Republicans winning so big in 2014 may have been a gift for Democrats in the long run. I believe that President Obama will come out of the next two years stronger than ever and that he will be a great asset for the 2016 Presidential Elections. Here’s why.
The Republican party is falling apart and a Republican “Civil War” is lurking as we come into 2015. Republicans such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has had sharper language towards President Obama’s policies and has proven that he is willing to do anything to get his point across as demonstrated by his previous filibuster and his support for the government shutdown. In addition, he also would not publicly support Mitch McConnell for the Majority Leader position in the Senate, on the night of the election.
Moderate and establishment Republicans are walking a tight rope themselves. On the one hand, they want to be seen as a party that can govern effectively so that they can win back the Presidency in 2016. But they also don’t want to alienate some in their base by being too cooperative with the Democratic president. The problems will persist and may be front and center during the Republican nomination for President of the United States, which may ultimately not be good for them.
While the Republicans are figuring their issues out, Obama will become the face of the Democratic Party as the only member of the party with any real federal power. He will also be at the forefront of many progressive issues such as immigration reform, a livable minimum wage, and climate change, among other issues. While the Republicans are bickering amongst themselves, they will not be able to come up with uniform strategy that will effectively oppose the president’s policies and put forward their own. Meanwhile, President Obama will take executive action where he can and he will fight for other issues that a majority of Americans, both Democratic and Republican, support.
Now this is definitely speculation on my part so I recognize that Republicans may actually change their tune. If they use their new majority in the Senate to govern and get something done, they may be more competitive in the next election. However, seeing where their party is now and hearing the continued rhetoric against this president, they may once again shoot themselves in the feet and derail any chance of having another Republican president anytime soon.
New York Times – Battle Over Immigration Poses Risks for G.O.P.