REFLECTION: Dysfunctional partisan politics

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by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR

Thanks to Tuesday’s election, the Republicans now control both the House and Senate, giving them a strong hand in Washington. Simply controlling the House allowed them to block any Democratic initiative without having to take responsibility for governing. Now with both houses in their control, they will be judged not by what they stop, but by what they do.

v4Will they fulfill promises to the pro-life community and put restrictions on abortion? Will they cut federal programs and balance the budget? Will they cut back on government regulations? Will they repeal Obamacare? Will the business community respond to their victory by creating more jobs?

Republicans did well by blaming President Barack Obama for all the country’s problems and linking Democratic candidates to him. Like almost all presidents after six years in office, Obama has lost his appeal, and we see his poll numbers as low as President George W. Bush’s at the same time in his presidency. Obama no longer inspires hope and enthusiasm among Hispanics and the young. Democrats also faced an uphill battle with so many of the Senate seats in red states that voted for Mitt Romney.

It was not surprising that Democrats lost the Senate, but the loss of purple-state Senate seats and blue-state governorships should teach Democrats that they need a new game plan. If their only strategy is to scare women by painting Republicans as opposed to abortion, they will continue to lose. That might have worked in 2010, but not today, especially when Republican candidates avoid saying stupid things. Young people and women are worried about jobs, not abortion. It is worth noting that while Democrats lost badly, ballot initiatives favoring a rise in the minimum wage did well, even in four red states…..

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