Dec: This isn’t 1994 — it’s worse

Pundits have been quick to compare the 1994 midterm elections to the midterms this year: a Democratic President who promoted a wide-reaching agenda is being punished. One problem: this isn’t 1994. It’s worse.

In 1994, Republicans took control of Congress, running under the “Contract with America” banner. This year, Republicans have vowed to block, dismantle and destroy the Obama Agenda. Contrary to 1994, this Democratic president actually realized many of his legislative goals: the economic stimulus, financial reform and, most notably, healthcare reform. These initiatives passed as a result of partisan votes down party lines, a function of united Republican opposition. The Republican scars are still raw, and they do not seem eager to begin compromising should they win control on Nov. 2.

In fact, the Republicans aren’t even running on a platform similar to 1994. They are running with a negative one, of raw opposition to the Obama agenda. The problem with the “Platform of No” is that its foundations are in gridlock. And that is what the Republicans will bring to Congress should they win enough seats to gain control.

Make no mistake: When the dust settles, a cadre of angry, right-wing partisans — which will inevitably include Tea Party activists — will shift both the House and Senate considerably to the right.

These are not moderate politicians. A Senator Toomey and a Senator Angle will produce seismic shifts in the way the Senate conducts business, even if Democrats retain control. If the Democrats survive election night with a majority in the Senate — say, 51 or 52 seats — they will be forced to find eight or nine Republican Senators with whom to compromise. The Senate will be subject to a tyranny of the minority, and a fierce one at that. Finding the votes necessary to pass substantive legislation will be a Herculean task, and I’m not sure it can be done.

The House will likely be subject to full Republican control, where an easier tyranny of the majority prevails. In a recent Politico article, Minority Leader John Boehner vowed to “do everything to kill [the Obama Agenda], stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.” Democrats will be excluded from the legislative process in the House, and a united GOP will be able to block Obama policy initiatives and pass right-wing legislation. They won’t care if the President opposes it, just as long as they do something that implies that they are following through on their campaign promises.

If the President chooses to compromise, he risks he own electoral success in 2012. If the President chooses not to compromise, he will benefit, as getting nothing (or very little) done in the next Congress is better for his electoral chances than passing Republican initiatives. He already has plenty of legislative accomplishments to tout in 2012 and preventing right-wing legislation will play well with his base.

But if the Republican Congress chooses to compromise, they risk their electoral success. It seems unlikely that Tea Party and conservative purists who believe that their country is being taken away and that the United States is devolving into socialism will be receptive to the idea of compromise with the President. If the Republican Congress chooses not to compromise, and instead passes legislation that favors their base, they will keep their focus, energy and pressure on the Presidency.

The repercussions of a Republican House and/or Senate would be gruesome. Little progress will be made in the next two years if they gain control. If you are still an undecided voter, I urge you to consider what siding with the Republicans this Election Day would entail. You may be unhappy with the legislative record of the President, but the alternative will be far more burdensome to Americans — both now and in generations to come. On Tuesday, we need to protect the Obama Agenda, even if it is imperfect. The Democrats have shown their ability to pass substantive legislation. The Republicans have shown their ability to say “no.” Even if you are disappointed or uneasy with the Obama Presidency, the Republican alternative is pure opposition and gridlock. Many of our nation’s most pressing issues cannot wait through another Congress of neglect.

In just four short days, voters will head to the polls. Don’t let someone else make the judgment for you. Say “yes”; Vote Democratic.

Thomas Dec is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.

Comments

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    > The Republican scars are still raw,
    > and they do not seem eager to begin
    > compromising should they win control
    > on Nov. 2.

    “Scars” are still… “raw?” Anyone else see the problem here? BTW: You are upset that Reps aren’t in a mood to compromise? You mean, the way Dems have over the last two years?

    > A cadre of angry, right-wing partisans
    > — which will inevitably include Tea
    > Party activists

    Lions and tigers and bears (o my)!

    > The House will likely be subject to…
    > tyranny of the majority.

    Um… so… tyranny of the majority is… BAD? Then… you are… *against* the current super-majority? Or just… you know… a hypocrite. (Oh, wait, I forgot: single-party rule is *good* when it is the Liberal “elite.”)

    [Most Americans] [are] unhappy with the legislative record of the President, [because most Americans understand] [a continuation of Democrat policies] will be far more burdensome to Americans — both now and in generations to come. On Tuesday, we need to [eject] the Obama Agenda, [because it spells disaster beyond that of Greece, Ireland, Britain, and France]. The Democrats have shown their [willingness] to pass substantive legislation. The Republicans have shown their ability to say “no.” [Ed. note: neither I nor most Americans will be voting Republican because we love Republicans--we just fear, yes, FEAR the outright, top-down, love of "we know what's good for you" centralized big-government US-style socialism that so-called Democrats have, at last, revealed as their core selves.]

    P.S. “Even if you are disappointed or ***uneasy*** with the Obama Presidency…” Is anyone *else* made… *uneasy* by the use of “uneasy?” Exactly to what kind of unease is the author alluding or, more accurately, what sort of unease is he inferring?”

  • RexMottram08

    There never was an “Obama agenda.” He’s an empty suit who turned over governing to Pelosi and Reid.

    All hail the Teleprompter in Chief!

    I remember when GWB was elected and campus broke down into mourning. Oh the delicious tears of students on cross campus, sobbing, “how could he get elected? everyone I know voted Democrat!”

    GOP tidal wave coming….

  • RexMottram08

    The most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that only one in twelve Americans blames the economy on Obama, and seven in ten think the downturn is temporary. And yet, the Democratic party is falling apart.

    Democrats are 4 points behind among women, a constituency Democrats had owned for decades; a staggering 20 points behind among independents (a 28-point swing since 2008); and 20 points behind among college graduates.

  • River Tam

    > Say “yes”; Vote Democratic.

    This is what DKE should have forced their initiates to chant.

  • Yale12

    RexMottram08, could you explain the GOP obsession with Obama’s use of teleprompters? Did Bush not use them? Does Sarah Palin not use them? Does the use of a teleprompter somehow indicate low intelligence? Or are you just picking up on yet another piece of meaningless GOP rhetoric?

  • Standards

    >Or are you just picking up on yet another piece of meaningless GOP rhetoric?

    Ding ding ding ding.

    I always find it hilarious how disproportionate the conservative voice on the YDN comments are. It’s as if they’re overcompensating for something.

  • Standards

    Also I have to question why someone who apparently went to yale long enough ago to see Bush be elected so religiously posts on the YDN forums.

  • The Anti-Yale

    You got somethin’ against ripe people?

    PK

  • Standards

    Posting on a college newspapers articles? Not so much against, I think it just says a lot about the person.

  • River Tam

    @Standards

    I’m okay with letting the big kids play on the jungle gym if you are.

  • Standards

    I’m totally okay with it, I just find them to be consistently conservative and consistently the least representative of the Yale community. Yet they somehow manage to speak as if their words represent obvious facts of the world.

  • RexMottram08

    Think deeply, Standard.

    Yale does have several graduate/professional schools.

  • RexMottram08

    >I always find it hilarious how disproportionate the conservative voice on the YDN comments are. It’s as if they’re overcompensating for something.

    It must be irritating when the Silent Majority gets uppity.

  • RexMottram08

    >RexMottram08, could you explain the GOP obsession with Obama’s use of teleprompters? Did Bush not use them? Does Sarah Palin not use them? Does the use of a teleprompter somehow indicate low intelligence? Or are you just picking up on yet another piece of meaningless GOP rhetoric?

    His use would be unexceptional. His over-use of them exposes his discomfort beyond the Ivory Tower, his inability to empathize, his disconnect with voters outside Hyde Park.

    Palin seems to do fine off-the-script.

    He is the first person in history to use teleprompters in the Indian Parliament. Everyone has their crutches…

  • River Tam

    > Does Sarah Palin not use them?

    No, Sarah Palin reads off her hand. Remember when the HuffPo spent a week going over that?

    > I just find them to be consistently conservative and consistently the least representative of the Yale community

    Do individuals parts have an obligation to be representative of the whole?

  • Madas

    Ah! The sweet, sweet smell of liberal desperation. Hope and change aren’t going to win you this election – hard to run as anti-establishment when you are the establishment. It’s going to be hilarious watching people around here cringe at the words “Senator Angle.” Hahahaha

  • The Anti-Yale

    “consistently conservative”? !

    No one has ever called my opinions “conservative”.

    PK

  • DebbieDowner

    This comments thread makes me want to move to Canada.

  • Yale12

    > Palin seems to do fine off-the-script.

    Wow, are you serious? Katie Couric? The vice presidential debates? KATIE COURIC?

  • RexMottram08

    Yale12, I understand your frustration with a conservative woman, but we have seen many successful politicians (right and left) overcome early careers blunders to become excellent statesmen.

    Palin’s star seems to be rising, while the great Hope seems to be setting.

  • robert99

    Gridlock is far more acceptable than having obama’s minions run roughshod over congressional proceedings.