In 2010, the Republicans’ leader in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, stated publicly that the party’s number one priority would be to deny President Obama a second term. This decision was made during a quiet, behind closed doors meeting of GOP luminaries both past and present on inaugural eve 2009. They determined it was better to pursue a strategy of obstructionism meant to halt any Democratic legislation rather than taking action to the address the economic calamity the country, and the world, was facing at that time. It was deemed more appropriate to ensure a return to political power than helping the average American during a severe crisis.
Now that this goal to make President Obama a one term president, in the same vein as Jimmy Carter, has failed miserably and all that expended energy proved wasteful, what will the Republican Party’s priorities be now for the next four years? Will they assist with continued job creation? With common sense gun control? With immigration reform? Will they participate in crafting a long term, sustainable and balanced fiscal path for the country?
Or will they continue to deny the message from the last election and sentiments of the majority of the public and return to the gridlocked state in which Congress currently resides?
Given the events since the election it seems the GOP will take a stance similar to the President’s first term. The dealings surrounding the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff show Republicans will bide their time, taking small incremental steps in a attempt to wear on Obama’s political credit and take advantage of the public’s attention deficit to eventually get their way. Also, at the state level, along with gerrymandering and voter ID laws, the party is attempting changes to elections themselves by altering the manner in which electoral votes are appropriated in a transparent effort to shift future results in their favor.
In a world still reeling from the lasting effects of a vast economic disaster, the Republican Party of one of the most influential countries in the world is more concerned with regaining power than it is with fostering certainty and progress in the middle of a precarious recovery. For each major conflict within the halls of the U.S. Congress the world holds its breath in hopes the gridlock will break and progress will win the day. As the country enters a new cycle many only foresee more ideological battles, all the while our economic partners wait with clouded foreboding hoping their economic partner can find some solid footing once again.
So where will Republican priorities lie? Unfortunately, appearances foretell a status quo. Those demanding a return to moderacy and compromise may have to hold out hope for a leftward wave in the 2014 midterm elections, for therein lies the greater chance of progress.