An early winter has descended on the northeast, ushered in by a 100 year storm that has left the coastal portions of much of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states reeling. Our quadrennial demonstration of the degree to which the entire country is divided and politically irreconcilable was once again upon us last night.
Moving into last night’s contest, the only things we could be sure of was that climatic change would leave us exposed to more frequent storms in the future (although half the country seems intent on disagreeing with that statement), and that our federal government would remain deeply divided and dysfunctional.
Seems pretty clear, right? But allow me to advance an alternative narrative.
President Obama’s victory last night provides the country with an opportunity that was, unfortunately, squandered during the president’s first term. The White House, chastened by a narrow victory and benefiting from the freedom to operate that historically characterises second term Democratic administrations, is likely to move into next week and next year with a far more combative message than the milquetoast and entirely elusive “bi-partisanship” of the president’s first term.
Moreover, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, and to a lesser extent in the Senate, will today come face to face with the reality that their message could not defeat a Democratic president suffering from a nearly 8% unemployment rate, and a massive 14.5% underemployment rate, to say nothing of a generally anemic economy and a lackluster set of policy responses to same.
They blamed the president for four years for an economic and financial crisis that misguided Republican supply-side and deregulatory policy wrought upon this nation on-and-off for nearly three decades. The Republicans pounded the president – attempted to obstruct and generally succeeded in blocking even the most moderate of Obama’s initiatives.
But they couldn’t pull it off, they failed. The tens of millions upon tens of millions, from the .01%, injected into the Republican juggernaut—ineffective. And now they face a president empowered to pin them with outright blame for continuing to thwart progress.
So here is what I believe will result from the new status quo. A newly re-elected president will finally be outraged enough to call out those on the Hill who have essentially shut down the federal government. He will, this go-round, take his case directly to the American people and leave the obstructionists with a clear and unambiguous choice: put partisanship aside and get with the program, or be prepared to see the full dismantling of the post-Reagan Republican misadventure in the 2014 congressional mid-term election.
That the country didn’t buy the Republican argument is now established fact. That they are exposed to the power accruing to a president who no longer needs to be concerned with his re-election is equally obvious. And that Republicans in congress must now choose between holding their seats and going down in a blaze of ideological glory will be pretty much the only two options available…if a re-elected Barack Obama has any sense of the political advantage that he was graced with yesterday.
I’m betting that the somnambulant Obama of the first debate is wide awake today. And I’ll wager that a large number of Republicans will choose their hides over their failed message.
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