Newt Gingrich recently announced that the first order of business for Republicans, when they regained control of Congress in 2010 or 2012, would be to go on a massive repealing spree, overturning legislation passed by the Democratic Congress and signed into law by Obama.
I don’t think so.
The GOP, despite suffering the worst political curb-stomping since 1964, and at a time when some 20% of Americans self-identify as Republicans, was able to mobilize busloads of red-faced, spittle-flecked, batshit insane screamers to shut down town hall meetings. They have demonstrated how easy it is, with only forty seats in the Senate, to obstruct and sabotage the majority’s agenda.
In short, the Republicans have been busily taking the Democrats to school on just how worthless and contemptible a majority–even a nominal supermajority–really is.
And that’s a good thing all around.
Despite all the “progressive” soccer mom rhetoric about “working families,” Obama’s big initiatives do little or nothing of substance in the way of restraining the power of big business, or making things better for working people and the poor. Obama’s agenda is the agenda of the “liberal” head of what Nader calls our “one corporate party with two heads.”
For example: the most likely outcome of Obama’s “healthcare reform” will be to compel the uninsured to buy insurance at whatever price the industry makes it available, and enable the industry to cartelize the cost of covering preexisting conditions by raising the average premium for everyone. That’s pretty much what happened under the Romney plan in Massachusetts, isn’t it?
Despite some fiddling around with executive perks and salaries, the Obama/Geithner version of TARP is exactly the same as the Bush/Paulson version in all its essentials. It’s a classic Hamiltonian project to prevent asset deflation by propping up their values with taxpayer money. The taxpayers are being saddled with interest-bearing debt to buy up bad assets at their inflated value, in order to provide banks with the liquidity to lend money back to the public at interest. What’s not to like–if you’re a banker?
When the Republicans swept to power in 1994 and 2000, they cultivated an aura of inevitability. What with redistricting, the K Street project, and maybe even playing around with rigged voting machines, they went on the offensive and tried to keep on the offensive. They took aggressive measures to lock themselves into a permanent majority and put the Democrats on a permanent defensive. Whenever the GOP acted on matters of “national security,” like USA PATRIOT or the Iraq war resolution, the Democrats scrambled to see who could be first to show their bellies to the alpha male. I still remember Dan Rather saying “Mr. President, tell me where to line up,” or Tom Daschle proclaiming there was “no daylight” between Bush and the Democrats on foreign policy.
All that’s changing. We have reason to hope that no majority, of either party, will ever again have such a free hand. We’re experiencing something analogous to the revolutionary shift in advantage to the defensive, in military affairs, that followed the introduction of the machine gun. What’s likely to follow, no matter what party is in power or even holds a super-majority, is bloody political trench warfare in which the majority party expends political capital the same way Marshall Foch expended lives, all just to gain a few meaningless yards of dirt.
The state will be paralyzed. If it’s not able to react decisively in times of crisis to do much good, well, when did it ever DO much good, anyway? On the other hand, it won’t be able to act decisively to suppress anything good, either. And since the ultimate solutions to the economic crises we’re experiencing are the things that voluntary associations of free individuals are doing, and since the main danger we face is state intervention to suppress the counter-economy and prop up the old system as long as possible, paralysis is the best thing to hope for.
When the Republicans regain majorities in Congress, as they surely will eventually, and proceed to the business of overturning the Democrats’ work and railroading through a positive agenda of their own, I think they’ll find the Democrats have been excellent pupils. If sixty Senate seats are worthless for Democrats, they’ll be just as worthless to Republicans.
That’s exactly what we need–a government that’s impotent and paralyzed, no matter who controls it.
The era of bipartisanship, the era of moderation, is over.