The GOP Will Set the Agenda

The GOP Will Set the Agenda

By Jack Kelly - November 9, 2014

Americans don’t think much of Democrats or Republicans, polls indicate. On Tuesday, they showed they dislike Democrats more.

This came as a shock to some, because more have disapproved of the GOP in polls. It shouldn’t have. Republicans score low because many conservatives view the GOP unfavorably. This is a big problem.

Fewer liberal Democrats are unhappy with their party. But just about everyone else is. Since only about 23 percent of Americans are liberals, Democrats have a bigger problem.

Republicans won seven Senate seats outright Tuesday and, as of this writing, led by 4 percentage points in Alaska with all precincts reporting. GOP gains almost certainly will rise to nine after the runoff in Louisiana next month.

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said three prominent Democrats have called him to say they’re eager to work with Republicans. Or maybe join them.

Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he’s proud to be a Democrat. But Republicans won the Senate race there with 62 percent and every House seat. If I were Joe, I’d be thinking about going with the flow.

There’ll be more Republicans in the House than at any time since 1928. Among them will be the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress (Elise Stefanik of New York), the first black Republican woman (Mia Love of Utah), and the first openly gay Republican (Carl DeMaio of California). They’ll play hob with the Democrat meme that Republicans are racist, sexist homophobes.

Republicans would lose four governors, some pundits predicted. They gained four. Republicans will control at least 65 of 99 state legislative chambers, the most since before the Great Depression.

Their “historic” midterm victory doesn’t tell us much about whether a Republican will be elected president in 2016. That will depend on what the new Congress does, especially on whether more of the factions in the GOP act like grownups.

The first step is for Republicans of all stripes to recognize their enemy is in the White House, not within the GOP caucus. The next is to understand that as long as Barack Obama is president, there isn’t much Republicans can do to change the direction of the country. They can send him bill after bill to fix the things he’s screwed up. But the president can veto them.

I’ll be astounded if Mr. Obama makes a sincere effort to compromise. “Sincere” and “effort” are words rarely associated with this president. But if serious overtures are made, Republicans shouldn’t spurn them.

Pundits tend to equate “compromise” with “doing what liberals want.” The midterm landslide means Republicans are now in the driver’s seat. It’s up to Democrats to propose modifications to GOP initiatives, not vice versa.

Republicans should negotiate with their eyes open, their hands on their wallets and go no further than half-way. But they must be willing to talk. “My way or the highway” didn’t work so well for Democrats. It won’t for Republicans either.

Mr. Obama is more likely to increase his scofflaw behavior than seek compromise. Republicans must try to rein him in by cutting off funding for enforcement of executive orders he has no authority to issue and to punish bureaucrats who thumb their noses at the law.

Many Democrats now regret following Barack Obama into the abyss. “Typhoid Barry” and his policies won’t get more popular. It’ll be fascinating to watch as relationships between Democrats and the president “evolve.”

Every Republican who took a Senate seat from a Democrat Tuesday campaigned hard for repeal of Obamacare. Of the 60 Democrats in the Senate who voted to impose Obamacare in 2009, 28 won’t be there in January, noted Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner.

If I were, say, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, where Republicans have veto-proof majorities in both houses of the legislature, I’d be thinking long and hard about that. 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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