Whew! That Was a Close One
Take a deep breath everyone; Mitch McConnell, Thad Cochran and most of their Establishment buddies are bringing home the electoral bacon. The terrifying run of conservative candidates unseating the old-timers may finally be over. McConnell and Cochran each beat their conservative challengers, thus our heads can rest a little lighter on our pillows knowing that entrenched incumbency once again dominates the American electoral system.
And rest assured that the repercussions of the Establishment’s win extend far beyond Kentucky and Mississippi.
First and foremost, we won’t have to worry about another government shutdown. Aren’t those horrible? For a small fraction of non-essential government employees to have their compensation briefly deferred while we seek solutions to the most consequential issues of our time is simply too much to bear. Just think of what The Daily Show would say. The thought of all those words and jokes and modified movie posters -- it’s enough to make Lindsey Graham weep.
We're now saved from the destructive political fallout that a shutdown inevitably brings. Because, if we've learned anything, it's that voters definitely don't forget about shutdowns within a few weeks. After such a budget standoff the generic ballot never swings back toward Republicans and the GOP couldn’t possibly be favored to win a Senate majority. With McConnell still in power and Thad Cochran is his loyal lieutenant, we’ll head those crazy Senator Cruzes off at the pass next time.
Speaking of that icky Ted Cruz, we can relax knowing that the Senate won’t embrace him. Mike Lee either. Those guys are so annoying with all their “We took an oath to the Constitution, so we should honor it” talk. Who do these freshmen think they are? The unwritten rules are simple: New senators are to sit down and keep quiet while we crush their souls and dilute their principles until they become docile, domesticated D.C. creatures. (Then they can join the Senate leadership!)
We can also rest easy knowing that the Senate opposition to Obamacare will be purely symbolic. Lots of votes that won't overcome a filibuster. Plenty of floor speeches about lost insurance policies, higher premiums and how the Veterans Administration is nothing more than a matured version of the Affordable Care Act. But we'll avoid the use of budget reconciliation to repeal the law. There will be no using the power of the purse to force a compromise with the President. We all know where that might lead. (See above: Shutdown, Avoidance of.)
Oh, and amnesty here we come. It’s true that McConnell and Cochran voted against amnesty last year. But despite the totally not election-year-motivated vote, McConnell managed to preside over his caucus dropping 14 “yea” votes in the Democrats’ lap. Plus it’s not like Cochran and McConnell can raise over $15 million in the primaries without eventually paying some homage to the pro-amnesty big business donors who financed the campaigns.
The big victories also mean that the Senate GOP won’t fight fire with fire when battling the Democrats. Because, hey, fire burns, right? Ouch.
A McConnell-led Senate majority will make sure to restore the old filibuster rules so that the Democrats can stop anything meaningful that the Republican majority might want to do, which is important because the old guard doesn’t do meaningful well -- unless we’re securing funding for the Senator Establishment Memorial Museum of Government Largesse or some such project. You know, the important stuff.
In short, we may finally be waking from the tea party nightmare. We can now go back to glory days of 2006 and 2008 when Republicans were respected electoral doormats. Or, if all goes well in the fall, we’ll go back even further to the days when we controlled Congress and grew government faster than any time in the previous four decades.
The McConnell, Cochran, and other GOP Establishment wins most of all mean sameness -- the same people with the same philosophy that has dominated American politics since the New Deal. And doesn’t that stability feel good? The national government will continue to grow. The individual citizen will continue to shrink. And we won’t have to worry about someone coming to Washington and changing the way things get done.
Oh sure, cynics may point to a new Gallup poll showing 75% of Americans dissatisfied with the country’s direction, but we know better. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s character in Mars Attacks!, we still got one out of four Americans and that ain’t bad.