The Republicans’ Dilemma: Congress

I have some bad news for those who think John McCain will fix the Republican’s problems: He can’t. A few weeks back I wrote a commentary arguing that the Democratic primary was over. Obama had seized the pledged delegate votes and was not going to lose it. Anything short of a politically disastrous coup, he would face John McCain in November.

This same aura futility is also faced by Republicans. If Barack Obama loses to John McCain in the presidential election this November, the Republicans will see yet another GOP in the White House, but an embolden Democrat Congress.

In 2006, the Democrats took a commanding lead in Congressional seats in a popular movement to rebuke the executive office and the war in Iraq. After picking up 31 seats in the 2006 election, the Democrats have the House of Representatives with 233 Democrats and 198 Republicans, with four spots vacant. They are 50 seats away from a two-thirds majority, but with so many Republicans now in a cross-fire between supporting a widely unpopular president or opposing the Party line, it is feasible.

It looks even more dire for Republicans in the Senate, where 23 Republican Senators are up for re-election as opposed to only 12 Democrats. Among those Republicans up for re-election is Ted Stevens of Alaska, the Senator notorious for building the “bridge to nowhere.” Currently Democrats are enjoying a nominal edge in the Senate with a 49 – 49 split, with the support of two liberal independents: Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. If the Democrats pick up any more additional seats in the Senate, Lieberman’s support for Iraq will become ineffective.

In the event that the Maverick reaches the Oval Office, he will have quite a few hurdles to overcome to get anything done. Part of the reason President Bush was able to appoint Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court was a Republican Congress. John McCain will not have this luxury; instead, he will face what Reagan faced in the 1980s – a Democrat Congress, which gave the Supreme Court one of its most liberal advocates, Justice Kennedy.

Although John McCain has some time to build his campaign as Clinton and Obama trade blows, he and his Party have a much harder and vigorous task ahead of them. Even if they win the White House, they will lose power in Congress. The real question is how much, and that will determine McCain’s power if he is elected President.

  • Babs

    You know, Michael, I can remember when many people attributed Jimmy Carter’s failures in the White House to Congress being his brick wall. So we can agree that McCain may encounter quite a few hurdles with a Democratic Congress. But if you see the glass as half full, we could also agree that a balance between a Republican President and a Democratic Congress could absolutely bring about a bridge across the divide and solutions to many problems. If McCain can hold out long enough to hammer in the nails, that is.