November 14, 2006
Back to opinion page.
2006 Election aftermath
In the wake of last week's stinging defeat, Democrats control the Monroe County Council, Monroe County Commissioners, Indiana House of Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Republicans still hold the Indiana Senate, the Governor's Office, and the White House. So does this mean we'll have gridlock?
On a very simple level, the answer is "I hope so." A government that cannot do anything cannot do harm, and government is more likely to do harm than good.
On the local level, there will be some interesting dynamics. Redistricting made it impossible for Herb Kilmer to run again, and Jeff Ellington lost his bid to be commissioner. This removes a very strong advocate for property rights. "Moderate" Joyce Poling gives the Democrats an effective 3-0 majority on the County Commissioners, which could have some interesting ramifications for 2008.
Marty Hawk is now the lone Republican on the County Council. If we were going to only have one Republican there, she is the best voice of fiscal conservatism we could have, and her extensive knowledge of county government is a major asset. Some were encouraging her to run for Commissioner, but I am glad she stayed where she was.
In 2001-2002 and 2005-2006, one Democrat switching sides on a vote could block a measure or allow it to pass, but that is not the case any more. With a 6-1 majority and the county Auditor's Office, Democrats basically have carte blanche to do what they want with the budget, so any problems leading into 2008 are completely on their shoulders. Hopefully, budget priorities will be appropriate.
On the state level, I really like what Matt Pierce proposed in terms of reducing local government's reliance on property taxes. Many conservatives have been calling for this for several years, and may be a source of bipartisan cooperation.
The Democrat-controlled House can't get anything done by itself, since the Republicans still control the Senate and Mitch Daniels is still Governor. In many ways, this election was a referendum on Daniels. Whether you think his policies were good or bad (and there's no doubt in my mind that Daniels is a visionary) he tried to change too much in too short a time frame. In a conservative state, that does not fly politically.
Baron Hill proposed changing the makeup of the ethics panel in Congress to include former members of Congress instead of sitting members. Hill argues that would increase ethical accountability, but I am not so sure. After all, partisan strife alone brings enthusiasm to ethics investigations. If someone is caught with his hand in the cookie jar, it is in the best interest of the other party to make sure it comes to light.
Should President Bush work with a Democratic Congress? While the idea of "working together to get things done for the people" sounds nice, there are major philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats. I do not expect Republicans to compromise their principles in the interest of "getting things done" any more than I expect the Democrats to do the same. Obstructionism, on either side, is not necessarily a bad thing if the policy being obstructed is bad for the country. There are few things in politics I find more annoying (not to mention patronizing and disingenuous) than calls for politicians to put aside major philosophical differences in the interest of "getting things done".
Democrats are warning the President not to send "extreme" judicial nominees to the Senate. What he really means is that the President should not send conservative nominees to the Senate, so it is fortunate that we got John Roberts and Samuel Alito before the Democrats took control of the Senate. The opportunity for another conservative Supreme Court justice is gone until at least 2009, and possibly 2013 if a Democrat is elected President.
It is going to be a very interesting, and possibly very cantankerous, two years. And think about this for a moment: if (God forbid) something were to happen to both President Bush and Vice President Cheney, We would have President Nancy Pelosi.