“Every election is like a job interview,” Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky and likely Senate majority leader, said in his acceptance speech Tuesday. This year, Democrats weren’t hired for lots of jobs.
Notably for East Enders, Lee Zeldin knocked off six-term incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop in the 1st Congressional District race.
In the back-and-forth, push-and-pull of national politics, Democrats were not only unable to mobilize and get out the vote for their candidates, Republicans were able to inspire their base and convince many in the middle that the left had gone too far. None of this was too surprising for a mid-term election under a second-term president, but whatever the reasons, Republicans earned most of the available spots in 2014.
The specific issues that will take center stage in the wake of the Republicans’ domination on Tuesday remain to be defined. Mr. Zeldin, in his own acceptance speech, mentioned that “every good idea” the Republicans have had in recent years has been stopped by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“Now those bills are going to Barack Obama’s desk,” he said. Unfortunately for Mr. Zeldin — and the American public, who is paying Congress to move the nation forward — many of those bills will probably be vetoed and, unable to secure the necessary two-thirds vote in Congress to override, will eventually die. At least, based on the atmosphere we’re seeing in Washington these days, that’s what can be expected.
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There’s plenty of blame to go around for the current state of affairs in the nation’s capital, but now both sides have the chance to surprise us. Republican leaders in Congress won’t be able to get much done without compromise. The same goes for the president himself, who was elected twice based, at least in part, on a platform of “hope and change.” This will be a true test to see if he can work across the aisle, push through gridlock and help change partisan politics between the government’s executive and legislative branches.
Whether either side really wants to get anything done — or just tear the other side down for their own benefit — remains to be seen. If recent history is any indicator, we won’t be holding our breath for much progress over the next two years.
Hopefully the president and Congress — including newcomers like Mr. Zeldin — can work together instead of in conflict. We’ll see.