I want to build off an idea I made in a prior post. More specifically, that the GOP could afford to lose the WH and Senate this year but come 2014 and 16 it may pay to not control a branch of government fully. Sean Trende at RCP deserves credit for his excellent analysis on this line of reasoning. I would like to delve a little deeper into this line of thinking as well.
Republicans deeply want the WH this year. More so than in other years. But the old saying of “Be careful what you wish for,” may be apt here. In the next several years America is set to face several crises. The first few could be immediate and have deep and lasting impacts on this country domestically. Others will be longer term and hurt just as badly.
Trende explored several of them in his piece. He first mentioned Europe and China’s economies stagnating, which would eventually hit us. Also, economic studies have shown it usually takes about a century for a country to come out of a financial collapse. By my count that makes us only halfway there. Another recession hitting US shores could trigger calls from the White House for more deficit spending to alleviate the crisis. But really, would Republicans go along with it, especially if they control the House and thus render the verdict of the 2012 election as a split decision?
Foreign Policy wise America faces the danger of a nuclear and hostile Iran. Combine that with deep military cuts neither party has the guts to stop and America may not have the military capability to respond if need be. Military brass has warned what the cost of the cuts could be and Congress and the WH seem to not have listened.
There is a counter argument here that Trende does not mention in more than passing. Congress and the President could put aside their bickering ways for a period of time and adopt a deficit reduction plan similar to Simpson-Bowles, compromise on the Bush tax cuts and keep the economy from going off the cliff at the end of 2012 and somehow stop the defense cuts. Course if you have watched Congress lately you think this is as likely to happen as your NFL team is to win the Super Bowl if you live in Cleveland (sorry Browns fans).
But putting possible issues aside that could devastate the party in power, just consider what Democrats would be fighting against in 2014 and 2016 if the economy went back into a recession, or perhaps less damaging electorally, Iran getting the nuke. Democrats will be fighting to hold 11 Senate seats in states George Bush carried in 2004. If the economy turns south they can say good-bye to making any headway in the House. And even though the GOP will largely be on the defense in many of the state legislative and gubernatorial races in the country come 2014 that could be alleviated by a terrible political climate for Democrats.
Come 2016 the GOP’s Presidential bench is deep, as is the future of their Senate crop (if 2014 goes their way). There is no heir apparent to Barack Obama among liberal democrats, heck moderate Democrats, while the GOP has people like Chris Christie and most notably Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio waiting in the wings.
It does need to be said that this is of course all conjecture. But preliminary economic reports indicate that the European recession is starting to hit US shores. Manufacturing orders were down, long and short-term for August and unemployment rates rose in 26 states. Instability in the Middle East is picking up as a new and even more dangerous, decentralized Al Qaeda creates chaos in the region. To top it off, Moody’s threatened they could downgrade the US’s credit rating in the near future (as in next year).
Mitt Romney may not be the best candidate for the GOP but he is facing stiff headwinds this election. Demographics and voter pessimism hurt him more than help him. If Republicans lose this election they will inevitably blame the nominee and say, among other things, they lost their shot to repeal Obamacare. Maybe so, maybe not. They might not be able to repeal it immediately but they could change it over time and issue waivers to states struggling with its more onerous provisions.
Needless to say the future is uncertain. But for America it has never been more so. Many of this country’s prized institutions and government programs are bankrupting the nation, debt is skyrocketing, partisanship is at an all time high, the Middle East is unstable and the economy appears as precarious as it was in late 2007. Republicans might be kicking themselves for their lost chance in 2012 but it may pay them dividends in 2014 and 2016 (especially if the GOP can find a candidate who can bridge at least some of the party’s divide with minorities). Course after 2016, it is anybody’s guess. And of course, there is far more at stake in this country’s future than just electoral considerations.