The Senate Democrats go Nuclear

I’ve said time and time again I would avoid talking about politics on here. Well forget that. I’m all about being myself – right?

So the democrats in the senate decided to use the “nuclear option’ and change the votes required for cloture on judicial and executive nominees from 60 to a simple majority. This reverted the change that was made in 1975. Senate democrats are taking a gamble here, but it’s one think will play out favorably for them.

The backlog of nominees needs to be cleared out. Republicans are near the edge of entering a period of political ruin.  While democrats seem to think they can weather any fallout from Obamacare and profit off fallout from the government shutdown.

The senate republicans have been overreaching, even if less so than their house counterparts. Republicans have tried to filibuster executive branch nominees including the secretary of defense – an unprecedented move. Their refusal to allow the confirmation of federal judges has created deep shortages of circuit court judges. In early 2013, 30 courts were in a state of “judicial emergency.” Republicans have been slowing down and blocking confirmations since Obama’s inauguration despite his relatively moderate  nominees.

What concerns me is that the republicans have appeared to lost control of their expenditures of political capital. By rejecting everything the administration and the democrats do, they think they can wear down their opposition. This might be true if not for the fact that republicans are perfectly willing to take down their own for a more conservative candidates. Instead of making progress, the GOP has generated a poor image with the public. And while there are still plenty of people casting votes for the republican party, they are becoming less likely to identify as members.  The number of Americans identifying as independents has risen steadily and many of these voters are identifying as libertarian.

While Libertarians will generally vote for republican candidates, the people they elect often won’t work within the framework of the republican leadership. As libertarian and tea party republicans buck from the herd, moderate republicans may feel that they can get away with disagreeing with party leadership. ENDA passed the senate with bipartisan support including a vote from Senator McCain. If the central part of the senate minority’s strategy is to always say no to the democrats, and they can’t do that anymore, what remains of the republican minority? McConnell should reorganize and re-prioritize.

Fracturing is robbing the effectiveness of the GOP. The democrats have remained relatively unified and become effective campaigners despite losing elements of their machine (like unions). What we are seeing is a reversal of two party politics. While the republicans have typically quickly rallied behind one candidate, their primaries now resemble all out battles and the democrats already have their eyes set on Hillary.

I think the republican’s need a big presidential win in order to take back the senate. Riding on a popular candidates coattails, a newly invigorated GOP majority could come to Washington with the power and will to make some wins for the republicans. Otherwise, I just don’t think they will have the capital.

Congressional Republican approval ratings are currently polling around 20% while Democrat’s are hanging in the high 30’s.

The hope for the republicans lies in the failings of the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare has mainly received flack from the perceived failing of the individual mandate. Individuals have been outspoken about exorbitant increases in insurance costs and the inability to continue their plans. I’m not sure if this will end up causing as much trouble for the democrats as the republicans hope. While the numbers of cancelled insurance programs is estimated to be fairly high, the subsidies might makeup the difference. We won’t know until later, but if the ACA ends up working effectively then I think many Americans will be willing to overlook the misinformation. That is depending on who the republicans nominate.

I am also unsure if ACA will makeup loses over the shutdown. In September the Democratic National Committee out-fundraised republicans for the first time in 17 months while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee set a monthly record. As democratic coffers swell, demographics are continuing to shift in their favor.

There is also a concern that GOP business contributions may dry up.

Either way, this move is a gamble by the democrats. the dems could make a couple of big wins in the senate and  possibly removed the spotlight from the ACA’s failures with the nuclear option. Or republicans will rally and take back seats in the senate – a move I doubt will take place before 2016.

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