John Boehner says that the only mandate the voters have is that Republicans and Democrats work together to solve problems – because Americans chose Republicans to serve as the majority to serve in the House of Representatives but also chose to reelect the President and keep a Democratic senate. First, let’s take a step back and figure out: how is that possible? How is possible that the President won easily, the Senate went more Democratic, and yet the House of Representatives easily stayed Republican? Oh yea, it’s that stupid and undemocratic redistricting system we have in which whomever is in power gerrymanders districts to benefit their party. That’s how half a million more voters voted for Democratic House candidates than Republican House candidates and the Republicans still managed to win way more seats. Just take Ohio as a case study. Ohio voted for Sherrod Brown, considered a pretty liberal Democrat. They voted for President Obama. Yet, because of redistricting, 12 of 16 House Representatives seats went to Republicans. That doesn’t seem right or democratic or representational to me but we’ll give Boehner a pass and say that is overall statement is correct: Americans do want to see Republicans and Democrats work together. That is a mandate (though I’m not sure what the consequence would be in our two-party system if it didn’t happen).
Rather than talking about mandates, which may be unclear given the split election (add the asterisk for the gerrymandered House of Representatives), let’s talk about consequences of the election.
Consequence #1: Comprehensive Immigration Reform will Get Done. The Republican Party’s future depends on it. You even have tea party leaders coming out and seeing that the latino vote going to Democrats is a big problem that needs to get fixed. Those are the folks who, in the same breath, say that the reason Mitt Romney lost is that he wasn’t anti-abortion enough. Even Sean Hannity (yes, Sean Hannity), has said that we need a pathway to citizenship. That guy attacked the Dream Act as “amnesty;” now he wants not only kids to be able to stay in America legally, but folks who came to America as adults have a pathway to citizenship. He calls it an “evolution,” I call it a 360. What it helps show is that comprehensive immigration reform will get done.
Consequence #2: President Obama will get some revenue. I didn’t say a lot of revenue. I said some revenue. The congressional Republicans will have to meet him somewhere in the middle or look really, really bad. I doubt tax rates will go up “officially,” which gives Republicans some cover; but significant revenue will be raised through cutting deductions and loopholes for high earners.
Consequence #3: Obamacare will stick. John Boehner said it himself right here.
Consequence #4: Ginsburg will be able to retire (or pass away) and the Supreme Court will retain its current balance. This is huge. The Supreme Court is already conservative and if Mitt Romney got a chance to replace Ginsburg, the country could really be thrown out of whack. I don’t forsee any conservatives retiring under Obama’s second term, but Obama will likely get at least one additional appointment.
Consequence #5: The war in Afghanistan will end. Though Romney claims we would get out of Afghanistan, with Obama, folks can be certain that we will be getting out of Afghanistan on time. The Republicans will not make the mistake of criticizing it this time.
Elections may not result in “mandates,” but they surely have consequences. Some stuff will get done in the next four years, there is no doubt about that. Republicans have a lot to gain from participating in comprehensive immigration reform and the Democrats have nothing to gain – the latinos already support them (besides doing it because they believe in it). It will get done. The Republicans have no choice but to work with the President on the fiscal cliff; if they don’t, taxes will simply go up automatically and it’ll be their fault. The Senate has already passed an extension of the tax cuts for 98% of Americans. Obamacare will stick for obvious reasons (basic executive power, including veto power) and Supreme Court justices and the war will work in similar ways. The mandate for this election is that the parties work together but what is more promising are the consequences: that things will get done. Call me optimistic (or call me naïve); just remember to call me right when my predictions turn out to be correct.