Littwin: Casting ballots for chaos
Fair and unbalanced
There is at least one very good reason to vote for Cory Gardner. That would be, of course, if you’re a fan of chaos, as I certainly am.
If Gardner were to win, the Republicans would almost certainly win control of the Senate. And no longer would there be the well-documented, brain-numbingly predictable dysfunction that has come of Democrats running the Senate and Republicans running the House.
No, with Republicans in charge of both chambers, you could expect dysfunction of a much higher order.
That’s because the old-fashioned interparty fighting would give way to intraparty fighting that would go something like this:
The Ted Cruzes of the Senate would immediately resume their fight with the Senate establishment (meaning that Cory Gardner, who would need to figure out quickly which side to join, would probably be forced to do battle against, well, Cory Gardner). Of course, the Senate establishment is led by Mitch McConnell, who is fighting for his Senate life and who has already promised to vote to repeal Obamacare (but only after conceding there weren’t enough votes to change anything and so … ).
It is McConnell’s job to show that Republicans can govern in advance of the 2016 elections. And yet, he has promised fights on Dodd-Frank and fights about the EPA and whatever else is on the Obama agenda. And none of this will be nearly enough for Cruz, who will be plotting with his buddies in the House to make sure the fighting gets bloody. Meanwhile McConnell has also promised to attach anti-Obama riders to spending bills, meaning that if Obama vetoes them, we’d be in government-shutdown territory — and this is from the grown-up end of the Republican spectrum.
Because they’re the grown-ups, the Senate Republicans would inevitably do battle with the House crazies (soon to be joined by Ken Buck), who would simultaneously be in conflict with the House leadership. Speaker John Boehner has been settling matters by sending bills to the Senate that everyone knows will die there. With Republicans in charge, the Senate would actually have to take these things up, meaning they’d be forced to vote on bills they never wanted to vote on, and Obama would happily get to veto them. Fifty-two Obamacare repeals? And that’s just for starters.
Then there’s the Republican presidential primary race, which has already begun but will begin in earnest the day after the election.
An unknown number of senators — but let’s start with some combination of RandPaul/TedCruz/MarcoRubio — will be in the primary fight. Running for president means, at this stage, running to the right (see: Romney, Mitt and 47 percent of self-deportation), meaning the Senate will have a hard time getting to 51 votes on anything that Obama would agree to. And, in any case, what would the House agree to that Obama would sign?
Can you see where this is headed? And it’s worse than that.
Ron Brownstein has a fascinating piece in the National Journal about how the red-blue divide is about to get significantly wider. Of the states that voted for Obama twice, 89 percent of their senators are Democrats. Of the states that voted against Obama twice, it’s over 80 percent now Republican and that will grow after November. In the House, Republicans will own virtually every seat in districts that supported Romney. As Brownstein writes, this means that not only will there be a chasm-like divide, there is little to no incentive for either side to compromise on anything.
Not that there’s much to compromise on. As I may have pointed out before, this is a campaign season about nothing, or at least frightfully little. The main agenda is fear, and you can pick out which side you’re on by what you’re being asked to be afraid of. There’s plenty of discussion of Ebola, but not so much of Syria. You suddenly don’t hear that much about repealing Obamacare. But you don’t hear anything about how to fix Obamacare.
And immigration reform?
This is where it promises to get really nasty. Assuming that Obama does use a series of executive orders to finally move the ball on reform, the I-word will inevitably come into play. Now you can say it would be absurd for Republicans to go there. Didn’t they learn their impeachment lessons with Bill Clinton, who is now wildly popular?
The answer, of course, would be no. Talk radio would talk of nothing else. The Internet would be alive with it. Fox News can’t wait. It’s ratings gold. It wouldn’t matter that, as with Clinton, there is no chance for Obama to be removed from office. This is where matters have been headed since the Tea Party invented itself.
It would be a disaster for Republicans, not to mention the country. And it would prove everything that Democrats have been warning against.
Personally, I doubt it would happen, but there’s every reason to wonder if it could. You don’t have to ask why. Just put it down to chaos theory.
Mike Littwin writes a column for the Colorado Independent.
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