The hubris of power
Republicans emerged from last week’s election with rare political advantage — control of the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House — not to mention a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, putting GOP-appointees back in the majority on the highest court in the land.
The GOP briefly controlled Congress and the White House during parts of George W. Bush’s administration, and Democrats enjoyed control of the House and a majority in the Senate when Obama took office in 2009.
Before that, Republicans hadn’t amassed such a consolidation of power since 1928. Add in statehouses across the country this year and the GOP’s legislative power is extraordinary.
With power comes the temptation to overreach. Nobody knows this better than today’s Republicans, who have spent the last eight years complaining bitterly about being shut out of policy development and reform efforts by an “imperial” Obama administration.
Two months into the Obama administration, then-Senate Minority Mitch McConnell accused the new president of failing to work with Republicans as he moved ahead with an ambitious agenda that included passage of a stimulus package and health care reform. The partisan rancor escalated when Republicans Texas Senate John Cornyn, Rand Paul of Kentucky and former House speaker John Boehner — among others — accused Obama of acting like a king as he used the power of the office to try and break the legislative gridlock.
Now the roles are reversed. But the logic remains the same. Our system of representative democracy is designed to empower the majority while protecting the minority.
So the question becomes: Will Republicans govern the way they argued that Democrats should have? Or was that just partisan bombast? Will they succumb to the imperial tendencies of ruling parties and overreach themselves?
Power is seductive. And memories can be short. Wielding their power for long-term sustainability, rather than shortterm gain, is the challenge that now confronts President-elect Trump and the Republican Party.
Trump promised repeatedly during the campaign to revoke many executive orders that Obama signed into law. The most likely targets are orders supporting Obamacare, the TransPacific Partnership, climate change, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and anything related to ending sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. As president, that will be his right. But as president, what to put in their place — how to assure greater accessibility to health care, how to grow markets for U.S. products, how to enhance U.S. security — will be his responsibility. To fill those voids will require outreach, negotiation, creativity — and compromise.
Trump pledged last week to unify the country, to be president for all Americans. He and his party have won the right to lead the way and to set the nation’s agenda.
But Trump and the party would be wise to remember the lessons from their own experience in the minority. Genuine acrossthe-aisle overtures would go a long way toward easing gridlock that so paralyzes Washington and infuriates the country.
It also will lay the foundation for sustainable reforms that will outlive this administration.
Republicans predicted a permanent GOP congressional majority after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. It lasted two years until the 2006 mid-terms.
Likewise, Democratic wins in the House in 2006 made Nancy Pelosi the first woman to serve as speaker, and after Obama’s historic win in 2008, there were more predictions of a permanent democratic majority. That majority also lasted two years.
The nation is divided. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote; Trump the electoral count. Republicans have a mandate for change, but not for partisan governing that leaves half of America on the sidelines. country. But, I have never demonstrated in violence or destructively to any other citizen who may not have shared my point of view.
We are a Constitutional Republic, founded upon the rule of law which applies to all people. Our freedoms rest in our God-granted inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all the people, not a chosen few.
Freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration is a right granted us by our rule of law. However, when you infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others, you act outside the limits so granted you by the law and become a violator of that very law. You do not have rights as Americans to cause disruption to the sanctity of others, property damage, violence or any action outside the law and order of our American society.
Cry, weep or howl, but do it with respect to our American nation and its standard.