More Questions Than Answers

I haven’t posted in a few days and was struggling to find a topic this week.  Even as tax day came and went, the general response wasn’t particularly extreme or surprising.  It did, however, get me thinking.  What if the divide in American politics doesn’t turn around and doesn’t begin to close? I started “The Pickle” for many reasons, one of which was to support the idea that our government, our democracy requires that opposing groups find a way to work together. Opposing groups in Washington do not appear to be attempting to work together. Instead, political parties and interest groups seem to be encouraging divisiveness and distrust.

This may be a cynical view but it sure seems like a complicated problem.

While I think there has always been competitiveness between parties and almost everyone “plays politics,” there also is a bitterness and tension that I still haven’t figured out how to explain (or deal with).  Instead of calling for the two groups to become more reasonable in their dealings with each other, I want to imagine a scenario that includes both groups becoming more solidified in their positions.  Assuming we haven’t seen the tipping point in partisan politics, what’s next?

Let’s say the Tea Partiers and loyal GOPers combine into a force on the political right and Obama’s celebrity coupled with a fear of the aforementioned anti-government alliance fuels solidification on the political left. How would the American voter and, more importantly, our system handle an evenly divided gridlock? Are we entering a transitional period where we should expect fewer bills and smaller victories?

This doesn’t seem to make much sense in the shadow of an almost trillion dollar, healthcare reform bill.  “ObamaCare,” as it is now being called, might end up being the prototype for future legislation.  If one party has a majority in Congress (both houses) and controls the White House, that party can pass highly partisan legislation.  If there is a split between the Congressional majority and the White House, expect to get next to nothing done.  That is a more likely (though cynical) view of the future.

Let’s assume the Republicans regain both the House and Senate in November.  As a sidenote, I actually think this is unlikely. But I digress.  If the GOP takes over a majority, what can we expect between January 2011 and November 2012?  There are probably a few small areas of common ground between Republicans and the Obama administration.  That’s about it.

This is where Moderates could become valuable.  (Is it weird that I always find a way to get back to writing about Moderates?)

Like Sens. Olympia Snowe or Joe Lieberman in the past, a group of moderate Senators and members of Congress could band together and become a small but powerful “party.”  The two political poles feel strongly about what’s best for the future of this country and, as a result, are highly vulnerable to gridlock.  Should the Republicans take over a majority or even close the gap in the 2010 elections, moderates will be the deciding vote(s) on each bill.  In this hypothetical, if the Obama administration or a Republican majority attempts to pass any substantial legislation, they will court this moderate minority (assuming it is large enough) to create a majority or super-majority in the respective chambers.  As men and women in the business world would say, there is a void or need in the “market” that my so-called moderate minority could fill.

While I have no idea who would lead or organize such a group, I think it could work and could bring serious power and legitimacy to moderate voices in this country.

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