Now that we have rounded the Labor Day bend and we find ourselves looking straight down the final stretch to the mid-term elections, the hot topic seems to be a question of which party will control Congress. For those who have grown weary of unobstructed right-wing politics in Washington, the prediction of a Democratic take over of the Congress is an exciting rally point. But I can’t escape the thought that this rallying point maybe a political mirage for those who don’t look at the political landscape a little closer.
First of all, I suspect that the effects of six years of unbalanced right-wing politics is too extreme to be reversed or even controlled by an introduction of balanced politics in the final two years of the Bush Administration. If anything, balance can be the brakes that may slow down the neoconservative agenda. But even then, we should keep in mind that these brakes may not be as effective now as they’ve been in the past. Over the past six years Republican-controlled Congress has been transferring power to the executive branch and to the private sector, creating a weaker Congress for the Democrats to control. Meanwhile a stronger executive and deregulated private sector could succeed in neutralizing congressional power altogether.
Then if you consider the economic crisis, which many experts are predicting will happen within a very short time, the Democrats in Congress could wind up being scapegoats for the trouble. If the past history of popular reaction to politics is any indication, this could actually renew support for the neoconservatives just as popular views associated the Carter administration with many of the unfortunate effects that were actually produced by the Nixon administration, paving the way for the return of the conservatives with the Reagan administration. After all, people naturally prefer the carefree times to times of consequence and despite the sequence of cause and effect, people more often associate things simultaneously and worse yet, emotionally.
It’s this irrational association that we need to watch out for if the Democrats gain control of the Congress this year. I would watch for a significant increase in veto action during Bush’s final two years, which may appeal to many people not willing to face the consequences if we actually wind up with a responsible congress that is. And if facing consequences means times of dismal austerity, there will undoubtedly be a barrage of commentaries that will associate such discomforts with the Democrat-controlled Congress, which would be like blaming your doctor for prescribing a dismal diet rather than blaming your past history of careless abandon that brought you to a point where the diet is necessary.