Third Party & Independents Archives

The Next Two Years

On election day, independents decided that it was a time for change in Washington. For the most part both the democratic and republican bases stayed true to their parties. Independents moved toward the democrats at about a 53 percent clip. The last time independents voted in such a large block towards a single party? 1994. Ok, props have been given to my colleagues in the green column here, so now the question is: What’s Next?

The elections were significant in that control of Congress switched to an opposition party. This is something I've been hoping would happen for quite some time. I believe that Washington works better when there are counter balances in place.

It should be noted however that less than 10% of the seats in both houses of Congress switched the balance of power. As of this morning, Democrats picked up at least 28 seats, or around 6% of the total house. The Senate switch was another 6 seats that changed power, and again around 6%. In the macro view, this is not a significant move in numbers, and can just as easily be reversed in 2008. It was an important symbolic change however, because as the exit polls have indicated the two areas of importance voters spoke most loudly about were the Iraq War and the corruption in Washington.

My question is what happens over the Next Two Years?

George Bush is done with campaigning. Of the twenty congressional candidates he actively campaigned for, only 6 won. The Bush effect has cooled and I'm not sure any Republican wants to be seen in the same room with the president. I believe he will be entirely consumed with establishing his legacy. How will he leave Washington?

The Congress now has new leadership. History making leadership at that. If Ms. Pelosi is elected Speaker of the House as is presumed, she will be the first woman to hold that role. Mr. Reid, if he attains the Majority Leadership role in the Senate, becomes the first Mormon to hold that role.

The Democrats have a chance to work with the President and the Republican minority to really make a difference for the American people. The question is, will they seize the day and work to better our situation, or fall back into the same tired political gamesmanship that has pervaded Congress seemingly forever?

What will Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid do? Early positive signs have been seen. Ms. Pelosi has said she's not interested in pursuing impeachment and is focused on a legislative agenda that will require Republican support. Mr. Bush has indicated he's "looking forward" to working with the new leadership. I hope this atmosphere of collaboration is not just a honeymoon period.

Will the Congress focus on serious issues like Iraq, Health Care, Economic Security, Immigration, and the myriad of other serious matters facing this country? Will they dismantle the connection to K-Street? Will they stop the bacchanalia of pork barrel spending? I seriously hope so.

Independents have become the lever in American poliitics today. We've spoken. Don't mess with us or you'll get sent packing. We expect change and positive outcomes. Over the next two years politicians have an opportunity to reclaim the trust of the electorate but if they don't their fate will be like those unfortunates in the "Survivor" TV series, they'll get voted off the island.

The optimist in me sees the lessons of 2006 taken to heart. I see the Congress working to rid itself of the tarnish of corruption. I think Pelosi's removal of William Jefferson's committee seat on Ways and Means while under investigation is a step in the right direction and hopefully indicative of how she will run the House. I'm hopeful that an intensified level of rigor is brought to the house relative to ethics and and against corruption. I see Harry Reid as someone who can work with the Senate in a fashion that Bill Frist could not. I think Senator Reid can reach across the aisle without alienating his supporters.

To me, the nex two years should bring about some positive results. Everyone in Washington knows this current Congress is subject to change again in two years. If they've studied the election results from last Tuesday well, and learned anything at all, they should have at least learned some humility.

I'm interested in what my colleagues on Watchblog see coming. What's your opinion of the next two years?

Posted by Dennis at November 12, 2006 8:51 AM
Comments
Comment #194735

Next?

Voters want results.

Here’s their score card.

We must keep Congress on course, reject the circular, petty, partisan warfare.
And, any incumbents that continue to be irresponsible, lets vote them ALL out next time.
Not just mostly ONE party.
That is how the two main parties keep taking turns, and maintaining their cu$hy, coveted 90% re-election rate.
90% of incumbents are STILL in Congress.
So, did we really send a clear message to Congress?
We will see.
Let’s see how much Congress gets done between now and 2008?
Some are optimistic, but with 90% of incumbents still retaining their cu$hy, coveted seats of abused power, I’m not sure that’s justified.

Grid-lock is highly likely for the next two years.

Bush may compromise on a few things, but Congress will still refuse to address the many, truly important issues on the score-card.

Some day, Congress may become more responsible, but not this time.

The voters need more education, and it is in the pipe-line.

Voters missed an opportunity this election to send a clear message to Congress. So, voters apparently must learn the hard, painful way, instead of the smart, less painful way.

Hence, the anti-incumbent sentiment will grow by 2008.
Hopefully voters will have learned more by then.
Maintaining a 90% re-election rate for Congress is NOT sending it a clear message.
It merely rewards and empowers Congress to continue to be irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for, and look-the-other-way.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 12, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #194742

Dennis:

I suppose you could use the term independents. I prefer the term moderates.

Moderates/Independents are the king makers of today.

1. The right controls the whitehouse. (or has strong influence there).
2. The left controls the committee chairmanships in the house and senate.

Moderates get to decide which legislation passes!!

Which ever side proposes something it simply can’t pass without the moderates.

Thus, even though the left wants Bush impeached, he wont be. Pelosi home town folks can be as mad as they want at her, but Pelosi doesn’t have the votes.

Here is a partial list of what I hope might happen:

1. Moderate Leave No Child Behind, by breathing flexibility, funding into it. Make it work for kids.

2. Moderate tax cuts. You hear all the screaming from the left on tax cuts. The truth is every american tax payer has benefited from these tax cuts. Democrats are only going to “adjust” the taxes for the rich. They will not mess with the rest of us. That “moderating” of the tax cuts will make them a permanent legacy for Bush.

3. Moderate the prescription drug plan. Every major undertaking probably needs another major undertaking to make it work. Democrats will fix this an make Bush’s legacy permanent.

4. Moderate Bush’s vision for the middle east. Again, every major initiative proably needs to be moderated. Bush’s idea of a democracy in Iraq is too idealistic. Ideology is ruining what could have been a good thing. My own goal in Iraq is to leave it in a better position than we found it. I don’t have a problem with workig with the Syrians and the Iranians to negotiate an end to the war. I don’t have a problem admiting that we were wrong, and nieve. So what? If Sadaam is gone, and Iraq no longer is a threat to it’s neighbors, and if with Syria and Iran we can make Iraq better than before Sadaam, then bring it on. Why ruin life because of pride?

5. Moderate the ownership society: For starters pass the minimun wage increase.

There is more, but this is enough for now.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 12, 2006 1:02 PM
Comment #194750

While I would love to see this Congress address the problems of the country, I don’t think it will. The left, like the right, has an agenda And they’re gonna pursue it.
Reckon I’m just cynical when it comes to politicians, but I don’t believe for one second that either Pelosi or Bush intend to work with each other. If they really want to why have they been doing it for the last 6 years?
I look for this Congress to make further attacks on our 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, while expanding Government control over our every day lives.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 12, 2006 2:39 PM
Comment #194825

“Ms. Pelosi has said she’s not interested in pursuing impeachment…”

partisan blackmail.

“Thus, even though the left wants Bush impeached, he wont be.”

this is not the wish of the left - but rather, every law-abiding, conscientious, god-fearing, constitution loving, red-blooded american.

“Reckon I’m just cynical when it comes to politicians, but I don’t believe for one second that either Pelosi or Bush intend to work with each other… I look for this Congress to make further attacks on our 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, while expanding Government control over our every day lives.”

… you have a rare insight into the thought processes of contemporary politicians.

Posted by: Diogenes at November 13, 2006 3:04 AM
Comment #194846

Craig, I am hopeful we see progress on all those fronts. Some will be simpler and easier than others like the minimum wage increase. But, I do think progress will be made. How much, how far, and at what cost politically, remain to be seen.

But, you and I both know that there will be many forces out there working in earnest to insure no such progress is made, because such progress would benefit the Democratic Party more than the Republican Party. Such is the game of politics, to render a nation asunder for political aims and power. These are the forces which must be guarded against.

Some of the tactics will be to raise moral values issues to a pinnacle to divide potential cooperation. Another will be to elevate economic snapshots of down periods as reflective of an overall trend. Another will be attempts to rewrite history glorifying non-existent accomplishments and damning previous successes of each other’s opponents.

We know these ploys. Let us hope that the general voting public learns to discount them as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2006 10:12 AM
Comment #194940

Dennis, you are absolutely right about Independents being responsible for shift between the two parties. The polls bear this out. In a few races, like Virginia, disenchanted Republicans staying home may have contributed as well. But, overall, as you say, the Republocrat Parties got out their vote, and the Independents made the difference. That is power. That is Power of Small Numbers. That is the power of the anti-incumbent vote.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2006 11:54 PM
Comment #195064

Dennis,

Being anti-incumbent means nothing if you are Anti-Republican or Anti-Democrat and want the “Republicrats” out of office. If Independents want real change get candidates out there that can compete with those from the other Parties. You say Independents voted for change in Iraq, but all they got was a more than likely pull-out from the Democratic Party; handing Iraq back to the terrorists, a la Saddam Hussein’s henchmen. Bush was the only one for a change of direction in Iraq during this campaign. Now, we are right back where we started! Did middle of the road Independents want real peace like we had back on September 10, 2001?

JD

Posted by: JD at November 14, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #195123

Being anti-incumbent means nothing if you are Anti-Republican or Anti-Democrat and want the “Republicrats” out of office. If Independents want real change get candidates out there that can compete with those from the other Parties. You say Independents voted for change in Iraq, but all they got was a more than likely pull-out from the Democratic Party; handing Iraq back to the terrorists, a la Saddam Hussein’s henchmen. Bush was the only one for a change of direction in Iraq during this campaign. Now, we are right back where we started! Did middle of the road Independents want real peace like we had back on September 10, 2001?

JD


Posted by: JD at November 14, 2006 06:32 PM
————————————————————-
JD,

Perhaps one day there will be a sufficient number of well-financed independents show up in congress. We now have 100% more in the Senate than we did before the election. Interestingly enough, the views those independents carry couldn’t be further apart (Sanders and Lieberman). Right now, the “independence movement” has to come from within the party infrastructure because of the monetary advantages the parties have. So, as Craig says above, look for a moderation effect from both parties.

As to the Iraq issue, the invasion was a bad idea, the execution of the war to remove Saddam was done well, the aftermath has been an abject failure. Democrats in Congress have already said they are against a total pull-out, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about. It’s been plain for sometime that the administration has been looking for a way to start redeploying (re: cut and run) from Iraq themselves.

I personally would pack up everything and get the hell out of there. Saddam’s gone, he’s gonna be hanging from a rope soon. A government is installed. According to the administration, they’ve got upwards of 300 thousand security forces trained. Time for us to execute the “we stand down when they stand up” action the President has always said we would do.

Why in the world would we want to risk another US soldier getting shot because the Sunni and the Shia are pissed at each other?

Posted by: Dennis at November 15, 2006 6:45 AM
Comment #195868

BTW, next year (2007) is not looking good.
I think we are really headed for a recession in 2007, because:

  • (01) Remember those inverted yield curves? Almost every time that happened, a recession followed.

  • (02) The real-estate market bubble is bursting.

  • (03) The two major automobile manufacturers are in dismal shape. Along with real-estate, those are two of the largest U.S. sectors.

  • (04) Walmart, Target, and major retailers are dropping prices. Something is up.

  • (05) Median wages are still falling (since 1999). However, Congress has given itself a raise 9 times since 1997 (all of the last 9 years).

  • (06) Iraq will continue to be costly (loss of life and monetarily).

  • (07) The $8.6 trillion National Debt has NEVER been larger. The total $22 trillion of federal debt to GDP percentae has NEVER been worse (164%).

  • (08) Inflation rates are rising. The government and Federal Reserve are printing too much money.

  • (09) Interest rates are rising.

  • (10) Nation-wide foreclosures have been rising for almost two years.

  • (11) Government is still FOR SALE ! Voters missed another opportunity to oust irresponsible incumbent politicians, and 90% of incumbents retained their cu$hy, coveted seats. The government is selectively enforcing the laws (e.g. illegal immigration, abused presidential pardons, etc.). Voters want change, but it will never happen by continually re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians.

  • (12) Energy vulnerability. Watch prices continue to rise again. And, let’s hope Israel doesn’t start a war with Iran.

  • (13) Social Security surpluses are still being plundered, ensuring looming shortages.

  • (14) Public education is declining in quality and increasing in cost, because of too money going to too many administrators, public funds being funneled into private schools (undermining public education), setting the bar too low, and lack of parental involvement.

  • (15) Illegal immigration will grow worse. It is already costing net losses of $70 billion annually to U.S. citizens. If Congress passes an amnesty, the problem will quadruple like it did after the amnesty of 1986.

  • (16) Healthcare is not only increasingly unaffordable, but dangerous too! In 1994 had serious Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 were fatal. On 27-July-2004, HealthGrades.com reported that “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. This is the 4th to 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. ! Healthcare solutions are needed, but we are quite likely to have yet another vast, huge, mismanaged system foisted upon us. The best thing to do is to get the middle-men OUT out of the system. Create a DIRECT-PAY system like once existed before insurance companies started getting their fat cut.

  • (17) Nation-wide personal debt is up to $20 trillion ! With $22 trillion of federal debt, that’s a $42 trillion (or more) of total federal debt! This all reads like a book “How, as a Nation, to Commit Suicide”.

  • (18) Do-Nothing Congress will continue to do nothing (or worse, something stupid? Hopefully, not something as stupid as another unnecessary war).

  • (19) Wall Street is afraid (and rightfully so) that Democrats will do something to hurt profits in the stock market. Will the Democrats choose to solve problems, or choose to fuel class warfare? Also, look for layoffs to start soon:
    • 10% at General Motors;

    • 13% at Borg/Warner;

    • 16% at Ford;

    • 17% at Daimler/Chrysler;

    • 10% at Hewlet Packard;

    • 16,000 workers at Intel;

    • Recent layoffs at Sun, Microsoft, Borland, Oracle, Novell, Lenovo, SGI, etc.

    • and more layoffs from the ripple effect of those layoffs above;
  • (20) Recessions occur every 2-to-11 years for the last 46 years. The last recession started about year 2000 (almost 6 years ago). With massive debt, borrowing, spending, money-printing, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all the things above, how well prepared are we for the next recession.

Hopefully, I’m wrong, but the list is growing in nubmer and severity. There are a number of things (now) that have never been worse since the Great Depresssion, and this so-called rosy economy we have now is being funded with massive borrowing, debt, spending, and money-printing. How long can that last? What would the economy be like now if it were NOT for that massive borrowing, spending, and money-printing?

Posted by: d.a.n at November 20, 2006 12:40 PM
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