With less than two weeks left until the 2006 midterm elections, the Democratic Party appears poised to seize control of the House and Senate due to the gross incompetence and rampant corruption within the Republican leadership. Unfortunately, Democrats will be hard-pressed to change the current direction of the country.
At best, the Democrats will only obtain a small majority in the House and a razor thin one-vote margin in the Senate. Nearly every Democrat will need to vote in a block in order to pass left-wing legislation.
In the Senate, one faithless Democratic Senator would give Vice President Dick Cheney the power to cast tie-breaking votes. Accordingly, most of the political clout will go to the moderates from both sides of the political divide. Ironically Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic Senator from Connecticut who was recently ousted from his own party, will hold the balance of power by joining Republicans on key issues such as national security and the war in Iraq.
Even if Democrats vote uniformly, they are unlikely to pass any major legislation through Republican road blocks. Republicans will of course threaten to use the filibuster, just as the Democrats did a few years ago. But hanging over a Democratic Congress is the risk of a presidential veto. Paralleling 1994, when Republicans staged their own coup, the reigning president will be of the opposing party, making quick use of his veto powers for at least two more years.
What if the Democrats work together not to pass new legislation, but instead to remand President Bush for his alleged manipulation of prewar Iraq intelligence and congressional Republicans for their widespread corruption? Impeachment is “Off the table,” promises California Representative and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi because impeachment, “lets the Republicans in Congress off the hook.” Instead, anticipate plenty of “investigations” into White House and congressional offenses. Then again, those investigations will temporarily have diminished scope and power thanks to years of Republican budget and staff cuts from congressional oversight committees.
2006 may mark the beginning of a new era of Democratic congressional control, but do not expect any sudden changes in government policy in the near future. For Congress, the White House and the country, Nov. 7 will simply be business as usual.
Alexander Thornton is a civil engineering sophomore.