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November 6, 2014

The Good News and the Bad News

Patricia A. Kelly

The midterms are over, except for a runoff, and a wait for absentee ballots here and there. The Republicans won. That’s it, both the good and the bad.


The close connection between individual race outcomes and President Barack Obama’s polling makes it clear the public is dissatisfied with his leadership. That’s not surprising given the scandals this administration has faced, from Ebola, to ISIL, to the IRS. But still, it’s surprising that overwhelming Republican victory was the outcome.


Perhaps people have actually seen through the constant “news” stories calling Republicans obstructionists. When studying obstructionism, one should definitely take a look at the bills languishing on Sen. Harry Reid’s old desk, soon to be occupied by Mitch McConnell.


Some Republican winners have suggested that people want to be in control of their own lives and their own decisions, too. Imagine that.


Democrats see people as needy, requiring government assistance to get through life. Republicans, on the other hand, favor individual initiative and personal freedom, with government out of the way. We have been switching back and forth for many years between parties, attempting to resolve these differences, to no avail.


Now that the elections are over, Senator Reid promises to work with Republicans as he becomes Minority Leader of the Senate. How touching. I can’t wait.


Senator McConnell is talking about ending gridlock in the Senate. He says, if the Senate actually functioned again, things would be better. What a concept!


Even President Obama is looking forward to working with the Republican Congress. I’m deeply moved.


Here in Maryland, we will soon have a Republican governor, Larry Hogan. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, closely aligned with our very liberal governor, Martin O’Malley, has lost big time.


And now, as so many winning candidates say right after elections, the real work for Republicans begins. Gridlocked before, complaining about the Democratic agenda, they were the opposition. Now they are the leaders, hindered mostly by the veto pen of the president.


Senator McConnell spoke after the election about fixing the Senate, referring to the lack of bills even coming to a vote in the past few years, as Senator Reid blocked what the president was unlikely to sign. He says things need to be opened up, that amendments should be proposed from both sides of the aisle. He says committee work should come back, with committee views respected by the Senate, and bills actually voted on. He says people should work on Friday, and maybe even Saturday, if they don’t get finished during the week.


Senator McConnell also wants to find common ground with the president and the Democrats, and work on areas where agreement can be reached. He spoke of the difficulty of repealing the Affordable Care Act, but offered the possibility of correcting some of the more odious aspects by withholding funding or repealing sections.


He says gridlock can be stopped.


We are all waiting eagerly for that, along with some other initiatives on the part of our new leaders.


The majority of voters believe our country is headed in the wrong direction.


Stopping gridlock in Washington would be a definite move away from that, and there are other initiatives that Republicans must undertake if they wish to lead successfully.


They can insist on objective coverage from the press when they grant interviews. They can cut down on partisan wrangling, especially personal attacks, and concentrate on facts. As nurse Kaci Hickok of Maine recently said, we must make decisions based on science rather than on speculation.


From environmental initiatives to dealing with people of other cultures, to decisions on infrastructure improvements, to going to war, open research-based information should be available to the Congress and the public. Simple, readable bills, otherwise known as transparency in government, are essential. Agency and advisor accountability are even more so.


Let’s hope Republicans can begin to pull things like this off. Let’s hope they will show more interest in the wellbeing of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity, than in their own advancement.


If they don’t take this chance that has been given to them by the American people, we can look forward to another possible election year rout, another ride on the merry-go-round, in 2016.


The onus is now on them.


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