Home / Culture and Society / Progressives, You Can Break The Republicans’ Spirit

Progressives, You Can Break The Republicans’ Spirit

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Progressives and Democrats have been thinking — a lot — lately about the potential for Republicans to retake control of Congress, wondering what would happen were the GOP able to install Rep. John Boehner as the next speaker of the House.

This is entirely expected and understandable, given the precarious political situation they’ve found themselves in, of late.

But being a longtime fan of science fiction, I’m a big believer in things like “alternate histories” and “alternative timelines.”

With that in mind, I’d like to consider a different outcome when we all wake up on November 3, the morning after Election Day.

What if Democrats are able to consolidate, and build upon, their recent gains in the polls, such that voters turn back many of this year’s tea party-fueled challengers? What if, instead of the crimson-red wave predicted just weeks ago, Republicans pick up just a handful of seats in the House, and aren’t able to make much of a dent in the Senate?

If that were to transpire, instead, what then might happen?

Allow me to offer a few thoughts.

Assume for the moment that Republicans this year have vastly overplayed their hands — as they did banking on impeachment winning them more seats 12 years ago. Let’s assume they succeed in picking up a net of a dozen or fewer seats in the House, and perhaps just a seat or two in the Senate.

Rather than force a Republican turnover, the election leaves the Democratic majorities shrunk only marginally. Nancy Pelosi will return as speaker in January, still with a very workable Democratic caucus. Ditto for Harry Reid in the Senate.

The GOP, meanwhile, would have thrown everything they had at this election — and still come up short. The repercussions of that for the party would begin immediately.

The futures of Boehner, and his deputy, Rep. Eric Cantor, to hold leadership positions would come very much in doubt.

More than that, though, a full struggle would begin within the Republican Party over the degree it has aligned itself with the tea party movement. (This especially will be true if, as expected, Democrat Chris Coons trounces tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell for a Delaware Senate seat when mainstream Republican Mike Castle would have won that race handily.)

As internal GOP recriminations mount, frustrated incumbent Republicans who had been holding on just to see a return to majority status would begin heading for the exits. Beginning in a trickle, Republican retirements would soon pick up speed as lawmakers look to move on to greener pastures. (These retirements alone would seriously hurt Republican chances to retake majorities in 2012 and subsequent elections.)

But, as important as all of these consequences would be, a Republican failure this year would have even an even far-reaching significance: it likely would call into question the GOP’s entire longstanding strategy of obstruction.

Almost since the day he took office, Republicans have stood shoulder-to-shoulder, nearly unanimously trying to stand in the way of even the most modest of President Obama’s initiatives. They have done this out of calculation that if they thwart progress — and deny the Democratic president credit for success — they will frustrate voters. That frustration, Republican thinking goes, would then compel voters back into the GOP camp.

But, in our potential scenario, that thinking would have failed to produce the majorities Republicans crave. And, given how central pure obstruction has been for their political game, I don’t think it could be underestimated how damaging it would be to the GOP should it fail.

In other words, I’m not sure Republicans would know what other cards to play. A failure of obstruction to win back a majority would cause a massive crisis of confidence inside the GOP.

That crisis of confidence for Republicans only would be amplified should Obama see any uptick in his approval ratings, for even an incremental improvement in the economy.

Quite simply, Republicans’ spirits would be broken.

All of that would provide them a new incentive, one to cooperate even somewhat more with Obama and the Democrats, which in turn, could improve the prospects for such stalled initiatives as climate legislation and immigration reform.

All of this is enough to put a smile on nearly any progressive’s face.

And, hopefully, it also is enough to get them out and voting in November.

Powered by

About Scott Nance

  • And if pigs had wings they could fly around the moon and bring us back buckets of magic cheese.

    The people are angry. They are tired of big government. The Democrats have made themselves the party of big government. Therefore they are screwed.

    End of story. The Republicans just benefit because they aren’t the Democrats.


  • The Republicans just benefit because they aren’t the Democrats.

    I don’t follow politics, but that rings true to me. In 2008, Democrats benefited because they weren’t Republicans. Now, after two years of clumsy leadership by Obama/Reid/Pelosi, the shoe’s back on the other foot.

    But this season’s wild card is the Tea Party. I get the impression they draw more support from the GOP’s disaffected than from independents. If so, it complicates the electoral outcome whether or not Republicans prevail in Congress. Should even a few Tea Party senate candidates win, Republicans will have to accommodate them in order to legislate effectively.

    In any event, Scott’s fantasy is wishful thinking. Come November 2, that smile on nearly any progressive’s face will most likely be a grimace.

  • zingzing

    heh. the problem for you, dave, is that in two years, people will be sick of the republicans again. and then you have four more years of that commie-fascist (a confusing combination,) who wants to lead america to its own destruction, because if there’s anything better than being the most powerful man in the world, it’s presiding over a heap of rubble.

  • Baronius

    There’s no such thing as a knock-out punch in politics. I remember what 1984 and 2004 looked like on the faces of the Democrats. I remember what 1996 felt like. You shake it off, package yourself slightly differently, and wait for the other guys to have a scandal explode in their faces. You bounce back.

    I’m not saying that a 2010 sweep will happen, or that it guarantees a Republican presidential win in 2012, but this election is going to see a lot more GOP wins than losses.

  • Doug Hunter

    I agree zing, I think our future lies in with the left/democrats. We’ve hit a tipping point where the democrat’s race and class warfare arguments combined with the ever growing percentage of people reliant on government handouts for their basic needs should constitute a somewhat permanent majority. America won’t turn to rubble overnight, although we are starting to decline.

    No one on the left ‘wants to’lead American into weakness, it’s just the logical result of their policies up to this point. In the early days you were told an assault on marriage and reliance on welfare would kill families… and it has. Kids born outside of marriage to single parents who rely on government assistance has skyrocketed. You were told that if government grew to become burdensome and minimum wage was raised and unemployment benefits were plentiful then you’d have higher unemployment (as Europe has with those same policies) and now nobel laureate economists are suggesting that the sluggish jobs situation we have now with 9-10% unemployment is the new normal. Finally, you were told that eventually you’d run out of other people’s money. There’s where our American ingenuity kicked in, we’re trying to prove it wrong burning through all our money, all the Social Security IOU’s, and then borrowing umpteen trillion$$ from China, but a day of reckoning is coming where we indeed find out we are out of other people’s money.

    In the last century we were the world power. We were instrumental in connecting the world through communications technology and the internet, we proved the environut doomsayers wrong by spawning the green revolution which enabled agriculture to feed the world’s exploding population, we dominated in medical research and techniques that saved millions of lives. This century we’re going to trade all that prestige, all that leadership, and all that ingenuity, all the money and power and even the American dream so that families don’t have to be families and poor people don’t have to suffer the stigma of being poor and ultimately so that we can have a cushioned ride down from the top.

    I had hopes that this nation could cure cancer and solve the looming energy crisis and give a world to our children that was much better than we found it, but I’m starting to think that the only thing we’re going to have to show for ourselves is a big fat debt they have to pay. We’re burning their future so we can take it easy now.

  • Arch Conservative

    Dave Nalle’s first post is a concise, accurate view of the present state of politics.

    But zing’s post #3 is also the truth.

    The reality lies within these two statements.

    Neither party is prepared to put the welfare of the nation and the citizenry before the party, party politics, or the special interests that fund the party.

    Until that changes we’ve nothing to do but sink toward the abyss.

  • Arch ConscienceStain

    Dave Nalle’s first post is a concise, accurate view of the stupid and reductive cliches that are presented as actual discourse in politics. We get the government we deserve.

  • Oct 09, 2010 at 11:26 am

    heh. the problem for you, dave, is that in two years, people will be sick of the republicans again. and then you have four more years of that commie-fascist (a confusing combination,) who wants to lead america to its own destruction, because if there’s anything better than being the most powerful man in the world, it’s presiding over a heap of rubble.

    Believe me, I’m quite aware. We’re working to make sure that the new Republicans elected are held accountable and are joined in 2 more years by another crop of dedicated reformers. Actually following through on promises made this year is key to preventing more of the terrible policies we are now suffering from.


  • zingzing

    dave: “Actually following through on promises made this year…”

    a tall order. also, they’ll actually have to flesh out their ideas into something that approaches reality. right now, it’s all just window dressing on an election bid.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Believe me, I’m quite aware. We’re working to make sure that the new Republicans elected are held accountable and are joined in 2 more years by another crop of dedicated reformers.”

    Do you really believe that line of crap?

    Anyone that resembles anything like a mainstream Party Republican is going to do whatever the hell he or she wants to do once they get into office and then come to you again with hat in hand in 2 or 6 years.

    The cycle of stupidty goes on forever.

    That’s why I didn’t vote for McCain. His legacy would have been better served had he died in the jungles of Vietnam a young American hero rather than turning out to be the crotchety old coot he has become…pining for amnesty and thumbing his nose at real conservatives every chance he gets.

    Scrw him and the GOP he rode in on!

  • Arch ConscienceStain

    Do you really believe that line of crap?

    Dave is a firm believer in his lines of crap, same as you.