As I have been talking to voters I came across one that expressed concern about the current gridlock in Washington. There have been times where the country would have been better off with gridlock in Congress. Clearly 2009-2011 was one of those periods of time, much of what was done then has made things worse and prevented a better recovery. Going forward if we continue on the current path and trends, we will face a debt crisis. So clearly we can’t afford more gridlock on the issue of spending reform. The question is how our vote will affect this dynamic. To understand our options we should look at what might happen this year from a strong Democratic Wave to another strong Republican Wave.
A strong Democratic election, I would define as at least coming close to taking the house, holding the Senate, and President Obama wins. I see no point in trying to analyze this possibility as there is no chance of this happening. A few months ago I saw forecast for the house elections showing anywhere from 7 seat gain for Democrats to a 15 seat gain for Republicans. Not much has changed so it is clear we will have a strongly Republican House.
This leads to the more likely possibility of a moderate Democratic year. This would mean Democrats make small gains in the house, Democratic control of the Senate, and President Obama wins re-election. This would lead to worse gridlock than we have today. I say this because the GOP can’t go along with any proposals Obama has made since they all make things worse. Obama basically told an Univision reporter he can’t be counted on to do anything if he has to work with any Republicans. In addition Obama will be more intransigent if he does not have to face re-election. The only thing to hold him back would be concern for his party, but he has made that clear he only cares about himself and his agenda, so that will mean nothing.
I think the most likely possibility is a moderate Republican year. Given the decisive advantage in the house this could mean only a small change +/-10 seats for that body. This would mean small gains in the Senate either barely controlling or just out of control. Of course this would mean a Romney victory. This would likely end the gridlock for many issues. This is true for three reasons. First many moderate Democrats in the Senate know they need to deal with issues to avoid a debt crisis, but they can’t voice this ahead of the election. To confront reality now, would be to admit failure of their ideas and to admit the two major pieces of legislation they passed, Stimulus and Obamacare, were incredibly irresponsible. The second reason is that we would have leadership for the first time in years in the White House. The final reason is replacing a rigid ideologue like Obama with a moderate like Romney gives a chance to find solutions in divided government.
The last possibility is a strong Republican year. Again given the already decisive margin in the house this could mean anywhere from a 0-15 seat gain. In the Senate it would mean getting to 53 or more GOP Senators. Obviously this would include a Romney victory. This case would completely end the gridlock for the reasons listed in the last section. In addition Washington will have been sent a strong message that the people are ahead of the politicians and we want them to act like adults. They will get the message to take the debt, economy, saving Medicare, and saving Social Security seriously. Democrats will still fight battles on key issues to them, but there will be enough moderate Democrats who care more about saving the country than furthering a failed progressive agenda to make significant progress. Clearly this would be the best outcome for the country to have a chance to confront our issues head on.
We may disagree on what needs to be done, but it is clear only a Romney victory leads to hope of ending the current gridlock and hope of avoiding a debt crisis. As was clear in the debate Romney is the only candidate that is a proven leader and the only one who has shown he can work with any opposition. The best way to end gridlock would be for one party to get smacked hard. The only chance to do that is for another strong Republican year. So if gridlock is your concern you should vote for Romney for President and Thompson for Senate. As a side note on our Senate race, since Tammy Baldwin is the most extreme member of the house, she would have trouble working with any reasonable person. We saw this in the Senate debate were all the examples she gave of working with GOP were to increase spending, increasing spending does not require much compromise for a extreme liberal. Thompson being a moderate would be able to work with both parties to get things done. Democrats may be slow on the uptake as shown by not taking the Scott Brown hint, and moving further left after the 2010 GOP tsunami, but I think they would get the message if they lose at least 6 Senate seats and the Presidency.