Trump loses in political stand-off
For Democrats, this is a shot over the bow. Just because Joe Biden won the presidency doesn’t mean a new wave of liberalism is sweeping through the country.
It was a stand-off election with Republicans holding on to governorships and legislatures. Joe had no coattails for Democrats running for lower offices. Democrats eked out just a U. S. Senate seat or two while losing several members of the House of Representatives.
The two run-off races for the Senate in Georgia due on my birthday (January 5) will suck up all of the money left over from 2020 and volunteers from all over the country will be in Georgia to join in a pitched political fight the likes of which we have never seen.
If you have a few million just laying around you can double your money in the next few weeks with a newspaper or TV station in Georgia. It will be Sutter’s Mill all over again.
But Georgia will be just a prelude to 2022 when history says that the Democrats are going to lose Congressional seats, governorships and legislatures.
Almost without exception, the political party controlling the White House loses its political footings in the off year. Political scientists have studied this strange phenomenon and don’t seem to have reached a consensus on the reason for this shift.
I have my own theory. Marginal voters supporting the winning presidential candidate do not come out to vote when their president is not on the ticket. So many of those who voted for Biden will not be back in 2022
The present political system is sustained by partisans that come out election-after-election. In presidential years, both parties work furiously to rally more of their kind to the polls. Because many citizens are unaware of their stake in elections, we are lucky if more than 60 percent show up to vote.
When it is necessary to take marginal voters by the hand for presidential elections we can’t expect them to come out for senators or congressmembers who have less pizzazz. If Joe expects to have a friendly Congress after 2022 he will have to prove the worth of a Democratic administration and drag a lot of people to the polls.
It is safe to assume that he will get no cooperation from the Republicans. It will be the same game that Republicans played with Barack Obama: don’t vote for anything Obama proposes. This was repeated when the Democrats faced off with Trump.
Polls indicate that venom prevails between the parties. The level of distrust and rancor has been sustained for the past few years. So we cannot expect the parties to make peace anytime soon.
Since both parties have enough strength in one or more of the three branches of government, all checking and balancing each other, nothing will happen without compromise. And there is no mood for compromise.
So nothing much is going to happen because our government is designed to do less than more. How long can this kind of democracy survive standing still when the world is moving swiftly into the future?
In Federalist Paper No. 22, Alexander Hamilton foresaw the danger in too much checking and balancing.
“When the concurrence of a large number is required by the Constitution to the doing of any national act, we are apt to rest satisfied that all is safe, because nothing improper will likely to be done, but we forget how much good may be prevented, and how much ill may be produced…”
We have a system of government that demands cooperation and compromise without which a political vacuum will exist and draw into its vortex adversaries of democracy.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota and former political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.