Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

If the Democrats do win this fall...

This is in part a contrarian thought experiment. I have read so many analyses of the fall’s congressional elections predicting gains for Democrats that I’ve begun to worry about what could go wrong.

Premise A: If Democrats win, they will not achieve a governing majority. It remains the case that gerrymandering has radically reduced the number of competitive seats, so even if Democrats win districts they are not supposed to, they will probably only get to a slight majority, not enough to pass any significant legislation.

Premise B: Democrats will have to promise a lot to get elected. In fact, the current CW dictates that Democrats must lay out a governing vision, and what I read tells me they plan to do so in August, with a book (sure to be gripping) by Rahm Emanuel.

Premise C: Things will suck as much or more in 2007 and 2008 as they do now.

Conclusion 1: If they achieve a narrow majority, Democrats will be in a position to be blamed for the country’s general suckiness and for failing to live up to their campaign promises, while being unable to make the kinds of drastic changes needed to address either.

Now, the one thing a bare majority in Congress does get you is control over committees, and especially the ability to hold hearings and subpoena witnesses. This does offer some opportunity to score political points.

But:

Premise D: The administration will stonewall any investigation from Congress into just about anything. For example, see the dismissive attitude revealed in the answers the Department of Justice gave to Democratic Senators’ questions about the NSA spying program.

Premise E: If Democratic Senators and Congressmen are often reluctant to rock the boat now (as revealed, for example, by their absurdly timorous reaction to Russ Feingold’s censure resolution), they will only be more so when they have more to lose—namely, the perks that come with even a narrow majority.

Premise F: Forcing answers from a stonewalling administration will require boat-rocking beyond simply delivering subpoenas.

Conclusion 2: Even if they control one or both Houses of Congress, Democrats will have a very hard time holding together even a bare majority to punish the administration for stonewalling investigations. This could have the effect of providing bipartisan sanction to Constitutionally indefensible programs, basically making Democrats complicit in a Constitutional crisis.

Tags: politics, Democrats, Election 2006

6 Comments:

  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    I thought the CW was that their gaining control of either the House or Senate was a real longshot. On the Sunday shows, everybody was going through the state-by-state races and concluding that there are too many institutional barriers to unseating as many incumbents as Dems would have to to regain control.

     
  • At 9:27 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Sorry, I should have made that more clear. I think the CW is that Democrats are poised to make gains, but the institutional barriers are very high to their making large gains. That's actually more or less what I was assuming. "Landslide," well, that's wrong. Nobody credible is predicting a landslide.

     
  • At 9:27 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I'll replace "landslide."

     
  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Is your point that I shouldn't worry about the above because the Democrats probably won't win anyway?

     
  • At 11:16 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah, that was pretty much my point. Or at least, that the CW on the shows I watched was that it was very unlikely they'd win, even by a small margin, once you do the election-by-election analysis. It was something like they'd have to unseat 8 incumbents in the Senate, for instance, and only something like 12% of Senate incumbents ever get unseated. Those numbers are off, but approximately right.

    Of course, it's only March.

     
  • At 11:23 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Oh, the Senate is highly, highly unlikely. The House I think is within the realm of possibility.

     

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