Many are preoccupied speculating about the magnitude of the impending Republican electoral victory, but I don't think it's putting the cart before the horse to caution that we also ought to be concerned -- now -- about what Republicans will do if they do recapture control.
The Republicans' power will obviously be limited, even if they emerge with majorities in both chambers, because Obama will remain in charge of the coequal executive branch. So how should the GOP proceed?
The reflexive Beltway response is that it ought to compromise with Obama to produce legislation. But there are a number of problems with that premise.
Contrary to his self-portrayal as post-partisan, Obama is a dogmatic ideologue who is so determined to "fundamentally change" America that he will remain on point, even if it means relegating himself to one term. He might pretend to move to the center, but his life's mission, from which he will not be deterred, is to move America way leftward.
But assume, for argument's sake, that Obama will approach the new Republican majorities in an authentic spirit of compromise. What then?
Well, how does one compromise with a statist without moving the country further toward statism? Take health care, for instance. We were already well on our way to a government-controlled system before Obama came along, and previous government intervention mostly mucked things up. So was there any compromise from the left to implement free market reforms? No, liberals set about to fully nationalize it.
Try the welfare state. Everyone acknowledged the system needed to be reformed. Black childhood poverty and illegitimacy were soaring, and the welfare reform measures of the '90s began to curb those trends. But Obama would have none of it. He slipped provisions into the stimulus bill reversing welfare reform. That's compromise Obama-style. If socialism is messing things up, give us more of it. If market forces are ameliorating problems, give us less of them. Compromising with a statist yields, at best, statism light, which will eventuate in statism stout.
It's also not necessarily true that passing legislation -- just any legislation -- is healthy for the republic. Washington doesn't have to be busy in order to improve the lives of American citizens.
Unfortunately, though, Washington has wrought such destruction that remedial legislation is imperative to fix the damage. Who says conservatives oppose change? Of course we demand change when the status quo spells national suicide.
Seeing as Republicans presumably won't be able to pass such remedial legislation while Obama's president, what should they do? Inquiring minds demand an answer.
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