Now that the election is over Congress can get down to work and start to accomplish something, right? No, I don’t think so. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That brief sign of hope that whisked by us during the 24 hours immediately following the election seems but a faint memory. It did not take long for the threats and counter-threats to begin to fly. The GOP leadership truly believes that they are operating from a position of strength. They believe that the results of the midterm election gave them the power to make demands on the President and the Democrats. They fully expect their opponents to cave. I believe that this is the GOP’s major miscalculation, and it will become crystal clear when they try to fight the President’s Executive Order on immigration.
This evening the President will announce the details of his Executive Order regarding immigration. The GOP leadership has been planning its strategy to combat this order for the past several weeks. In fact, this issue has created a split in the already fractious party between the most extreme elements, lead by the likes of Cruz and those less extreme more establishment elements, lead by McConnell and Boehner. There is talk of refusing funding which will create another government shutdown. There is talk of counter legislation, that if destructive to the Obama vision of immigration policy, will meet with the President’s veto pen. The basic fact is that if the extreme elements win in the short-term, they will impact on the GOP’s chances for success in 2016 in the most negative way. The establishment elements know this and will fight for moderation. If they succeed than so does the President. If they fail, the President wins, because the Party responsible for a government shutdown never wins. The fact is, the GOP may be talking as if they have the power, but the dissension within the ranks make them weak, and will make it a challenge to even give the impression that they can govern. The fact that they are claiming that such an Executive Order is unconstitutional is utter nonsense. Both Presidents Bush and Reagan did exactly the same thing to impact on immigration and not a single Democrat or Republican uttered a peep . That argument will only work with the base of uniformed and extremely partisan Republicans.
The Democrats have a different kind of challenge over the next two years. First, they need to battle the GOP every step of the way while at the same time appearing to be rational and thoughtful . They need to be the mature leaders, while doing things that unhinge the GOP causing them to look and sound extreme and immature. This will take discipline and strong leadership. However, if they can do this in the face of the most arrogant and extreme actions attempted by the GOP, 2016 will be a year of great success and achievement for the Democratic Party.
The second challenge facing the Democrats over the next two years is to strengthen their state and local organizations. While the GOP controls a vast majority of state houses and many state legislatures, the polls show that they are often moving against the grain of their populations. Democrats have to highlight those areas of conflict and work to reverse legislative action. The last election highlighted minimum wage and marijuana policy as two of those areas. Demographic changes are coming and the Democrats must work hard to exploit them.
If we look at the electoral map of today it appears that we are a very conservative country. I don’t, however, believe that the map is representative of who we really are if issues are presented honestly and voters are given real choices. We are, after all, a nation built on the value of “Liberty And Justice For All”. This is a fact that the GOP has forgotten. It is the job of Democrats over next two years to remind them, starting with a change in immigration policy.