Monday, September 04, 2006

Who will control the House?

An article in the NY Times by Robin Toner and Kate Zernike entitled "G.O.P. Seen to Be in Peril of Losing House" reminds me that the Democrats are getting giddy with glee at the prospect that they may really be able to recapture a majority in the House of Representatives. But, having a majority and having "control" are two completely different things. Sure, even a one-vote majority allows them to change the rules, assign committee chairmen, and have majorities on all committees, and they might have the votes to act as a spoiler at attempts to legislatively advance the conservative agenda, but that is a far cry from having true control of the House where they have the votes to override a presidential veto as they attempt to advance their own liberal agenda.

So, the point remains a question of who and what agenda will control the House in 2007. I lean towards a belief that we will have a do-nothing Congress regardless of who has how slim a majority in the House and Senate.

I would caution the Democrats on two counts:

  1. If you do win a slim, but not veto-proof majority, understand that you won't be able to advance your agenda with successful legislation and voters may be upset with a do-nothing record two years from now and decide to bring the Republicans back in in 2008. Even if fault will lie with Republican spoilers of your agenda, the voters will still place the blame with the party that is in charge at the time.
  2. There is plenty of time between now and the election for Republicans to dramatically shift their campaign tactics and go on the offensive and bull-doze right over any Democrats who sit comfortably on the laurels of their current polling leads. The election will go to the candidates who appear most agile and most willing to align with the interests of the voters, regardless of what bad news flows from Iraq and what shrill rhetoric comes from the mouth of our Secretary of Defense. Do not underestimate the ability of Republicans to take a politically expedient course to win. If they have to engage in appeasement to win, they will. Are they snakes? Yes, but very dangerous snakes. Do not take them or your polling numbers for granted.

My advice to candidates of any party who want to seriously win in November: listen to your prospective constituents, not just your party leaders, and deeply commit yourself to the concept that your job after being elected is to represent the interests of your constituents, and not the special interests of some national "party."

-- Jack Krupansky


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