by Daniel Halper | POINT: How the election will hurt the Democrats in the long run.
With the likes of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declaring that the American elections were a victory and al-Qaeda again vowing to destroy the White House and declaring that they are winning the War on Terror, it is difficult to be excited about the most recent makeover in Washington. For this reason, and several others, the midterm elections of 2006 may bode better for the losers than for the winners.
Americans tend to have a short memory, and five years after the most devastating attack on the US in history, citizens have forgotten the necessity of proper security. Now that the Democrats have won the House with commanding force, and squeaked by to gain control of the Senate by a single seat, the majority party must be able to take action or be ready to face the consequences of a lackluster Congress.
While campaigning, the Democrats refused to endorse the Bush tax cuts, which have vastly improved the US economy. The unemployment rate is down to an unprecedented 4.4 percent, while the NASDAQ has eclipsed the almost unthinkable 12,000 mark. Rhetoric aside, any party would run into obstacles trying to enhance the already booming economy. Economic principles of capitalism support the Bush doctrine more than the propositions made by the opposing side. For instance, a higher minimum wage will only retard economic growth by costing both the employer and employee more.
The Democrats are digging themselves in a hole. Campaigns across the nation ran against the Iraq war, from Jim Webb (D-VA) to Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Yet, these members of Congress have no power over foreign policy. Only the Commander-in-Chief has authority over foreign policy. They have made empty promises to the American people. The midterm election was a statement about the war, but by the time the 2008 election rolls around, the Democrats will be held accountable if nothing changes in Iraqi policy, even though that policy is entirely reflective of the President and the administration. Additionally, President Bush does not have to sign any legislation passed. For instance, national health care reform might pass in Congress, but will unlikely pass through the White House. The American people will be so disenchanted by this do-nothing Congress that they will be apt to choose a Republican Congress and President in the next general election.
Another important factor is that there are huge philosophical differences between many Democrats. For instance, Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) disagree on many issues from taxes to Second Amendment rights. The fact that they are even in the same party is relative to the state of their origin. Ideologically, Tester is closer to a Massachusetts Republican than Democrat. This lack of party unity will surely lead to disagreements, stalling, and ineffectiveness, just as the deficiency of unity within the Republican Party failed to promote conservative ideals over the past six years.
Conservatives and Republicans alike should not be discouraged by the election results. Rather, the midterms speak well for Americans across the nation and encourage healthy change. The Republicans have hit themselves with scandal after scandal, and have rightfully been given the boot: The lack of ethos in Washington reached an unbearable level; from the handouts of Jack Abramoff to Mark Foley trying to seduce a Congressional page. This election, if nothing else, should act as a wake up call to all public office holders: the American people want to be led by morally sound individuals, not the riff raff that has hijacked the Capitol. The ‘thumpin’ in the 2006 election will most certainly send the message.
Moreover, the buzz inside the beltway strongly suggests that the Democrats will try to impeach Bush over the next two years. This will be ineffective and only distract from core issues. There is a clear historical precedent: after the Republicans impeached Clinton, the GOP only lost seats in Congress, and that was after the President had committed perjury and acts even more scandalous than those of Foley.
From local politicians to the men and women in Washington, a transformation is in store for this country. Democrats are releasing the confetti and cracking open the champagne as they become the new big party in town after twelve years in the minority. After an exciting midterm election season, there are many questions yet to be answered, but the most glaring may be regarding the Democrats’ optimism. The Democrats should party now; their tenure as the majority party might only be for the next two years.
The Democrats are celebrating as though there is no 2008, and they should. For them, the next election will only bring embarrassment. While the Democrats may have won some respect and citizens’ votes across the nation, it will take more than a single election and two years to prove their capability to lead America in a new direction. Let the Americans have a taste of the Democrats, and they will surely not ask for more.
Mr. Halper is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Philosophy.