Posts Tagged Republicans

Don’t Write Yourselves Off Yet!

With the 113th Congress in recess, and election day rapidly approaching, now seems like a good time to take a look at how this Congress stacks up to its predecessors. Sure, there are four months left for the 113th, but it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll get back to work and crank out hundreds of pieces of legislation, so we’re free to judge them as they are.

As it stands, this Congress has passed 142 bills that have become law. On average, the 103rd-112th each passed 425.5 bills into law. Just because bills are not becoming law at the same rate they have in the past does not mean, as a standalone figure, that there is a problem with Congress. Many people, Republicans most notably, tend to favor the argument that the best course of action when it comes to Federal Laws is to have fewer of them, and that decreasing the rate at which we sign new laws into effect is a positive thing.

However, considering that in order to repeal a law already on the books a new law must be passed, that line of reasoning still speaks to a problem within the current Congress. Fewer laws are being enacted, while people on both sides of the political divide clamor for action on issues like immigration, guns, and the economy. 

Congressional gridlock is occasionally used as a badge of honor, with partisans on both sides of the aisle claiming that stalling tactics used to block legislation is better than what “the other side” would accomplish if allowed to run rampant. That argument, however, ignores the miles and miles of middle ground between the two poles. Liberal Democrats want to pass a law prohibiting the marketing of electronic cigarettes to children, and conservative Republicans want to require parental notification for all unemancipated minors seeking abortions, but there are issues both sides can and should find common ground on. The nuts and bolts issues of running a country – funding transportation, infrastructure, the VA – these are all things where the differences between the two major parties in Congress are not so insurmountable that they can’t be hammered out, and yet members of Congress still prefer to seem “victorious” in pushing back an opposition agenda than working together on anything, even refusing to tackle the smallest issues before them, lest they be labeled “compromisers” and “flip-floppers.”

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Why Do Iowa and New Hampshire Matter, Anyway?

With Washington, D.C. still on vacation for the remainder of August, political news outlets have been focusing on the race for the Republican presidential nomination. This means reporters are running around, following Texas governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (among others) across the country.

The campaigns have been flying (or busing) around the country, heading from state to state, trying to convince voters that they will be the best person to face Barack Obama in next year’s elections. To the casual observer, it may seem like the Republican candidates are travelling around the country in a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants willy-nilly fashion, but as with most of politics, there are ulterior motives afoot!

The upcoming Republican primary calendar, while still not set in stone, is organized in such a way that certain states are given much more political sway than others. Iowa, for instance, is an early primary state, holding their caucuses (a somewhat different form of primary voting) on February 6th of next year. Whichever candidate wins in Iowa then has a strong showing heading in to contests held the following day (primaries in MO and NJ with caucuses being held in MN). Following the two-back-to-back openers, within four weeks eighteen states will have completed their elections.

Clearly winning early primary states gives a candidate an advantage heading into the rest of the primary calendar. While the GOP schedule is set to stretch through the end of June, many political observers believe that the nomination could be secured well before then. Especially in a cycle like this, where there is an attempt to defeat an incumbent president, there is a likelihood that if a candidate manages a few strong wins early in the primary season, then subsequent primary voters may jump on the “surging” candidate’s bandwagon, preferring to settle on a nominee early in order to get started on the campaign for the general election.

At this point the national political media is in the position of following the campaigning Republicans around early primary state after early primary state, watching the candidates attempt to secure support and as many votes as possible. Whichever candidate manages to create a sense of “inevitability” about their campaign once the primaries start has a much better shot at being nominated by their party than those who allow their candidacy to get bowled down by news cycle after news cycle devoting time and free exposure to their opponents.

UPDATE:

To clarify the New Hampshire coverage: New Hampshire’s primary will be held on February 14, shortly after those held in IA, MO, and NJ. New Hampshire’s relative importance is due in part to its position on the calendar, but also because it is an “open primary” state, meaning that people registered as other than Republican can vote in the Republican primary. Because of this, New Hampshire is seen as a way to prove a candidate’s ability to win with independent voters and conservative or moderate Democrats, an argument that supposedly would help propel the candidate all the way to the general election.

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