Saturday, October 27, 2007

Majorities in Government

Steve Soto in a Friday post over at The Left Coaster posits a choice between,

a) Having a Democrat win the White House but maintain only a shaky hold in Congress;
b) Losing the White House but adding another 20 in the House and 10 in the Senate;

A fairly lively and interesting discussion followed in the comments, but are those the only two choices? Actually, two scenarios pose themselves to me as being somewhat more likely;

a) A Democrat win in the White House and adding to the majority in Congress;
b) A Republican in the White House but adding to the Democratic majority in Congress

The mood of the country is really weird right now, and I’m not suggesting that Steve’s choices are really off base. The popularity of Congress is, what, 11% at this point to the president’s 24%, so it certainly doesn’t look like the public is all that thrilled with the Democratic majority that was elected in 2006. Are we likely to build on what is clearly not working? Maybe not, but I still suspect that the voters will blame Republicans more than Democrats and I have little doubt that the Democratic majority will increase.

I don’t think it will help anything, you understand, but I think it will happen.

That leaves the question of president. As Jill put it in her post at Brilliant at Breakfast on Friday,

…that fix is that we will have a choice between a president who will continue to expand the U.S.-initiated conflagration in the Middle East, and a president who will continue to expand the U.S.-initiated conflagration in the Middle East.

Some choice.

That choice is caused by the issue that Hillary Clinton is already the Democratic nominee. Chosen as such not by the voters, not by the people of this country, but by the pundits and the media as directed by the money in campaign coffers provided by corporate sponsors.

So looking back up at the two choices that I have posited, which would you prefer? While you’re thinking about that, recall six years of having a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress, and how nicely that worked out for the country. [end snark]

No, I don’t think a Democrat/Democrat combination would be as disastrous as the Republican/Republican one was. Relationships between Democratic presidents and Democratic Congresses in the past have been quite contentious, and I have no reason to believe a future Democratic Congress would fail to properly perform its oversight of a Democratic president.

There are some good things about Hillary Clinton and she has supported some good causes. She certainly is no George Bush. But she equally certainly is a corporatist and a militarist, and she is far too capable of bending a Congress of her same party to her will.

I read constantly that electing Democrats, any Democrats, will be the salvation of democracy and of Democracy for this country and I am convinced that such a belief is a very slippery slope.

Politicians of the Democratic Party spend as much money campaigning as Republicans do, and they obtain that money in precisely the same fashion. Democrats will pass populist legislation, but only to the extent that it is accompanied by benefits for their corporate sponsors. Witness that they could not pass a minimum wage bill until they accompanied it with tax breaks for business.

Electing Democrats will help, and I encourage doing it, but it will not solve the problem. The problem will not be solved until we take the money out of the election process.

In the meantime, the more that government is paralyzed by partisan politics the fewer bad bills it can enact.

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