Most experts are predicting that the House of Representatives and the Senate are unlikely to change hands this November. Rather both houses are predicted to be even more closely divided than they are today. The vast majority of Americans falsely believe that in electing a President and a Congress controlled by opposing parties, that the ensuing compromise will assure that extreme policies are not pursued. While it is true that a divided Congress and Presidency drives compromise, as the two parties become more and more beholden to special interests, the compromise ultimately helps neither rank and file Democrats or Republicans.
The most glaring example is the recently passed, and signed, JOBS Act, which in effect decriminalizes and deregulates pump and dump schemes and incentivizes false advertising claims with regard to “emerging” businesses seeking to go public. The ultimate effect will be to hurt the very small businesses it seeks to assist by engendering skepticism of legitimate offerings. The recent past is replete with examples of dangerous comrpomise, from the deregulation of derivatives markets, the dismantling of the barrier between banks and investment houses, the Patriot Act, to more recently the automatic deficit reducing measures or “sequester” negotiated as part of 2011′s debt ceiling negotiations. None of these measures is in the interests of every day Americans. In fact each works directly against our common interests. Ironically each was passed with much fanfare and propaganda lauded as great bipartisan successes.
If the predictions surrounding this November’s election hold true, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, the American public should expect more of the same. Without a third-party or non-partisan movement pushing one or both of the parties to consider the interests of the public, nothing will change. If such a movement held a small block of seats in the Congress, our position would have to be resolved before legislation could be passed and sent on to the President. If incumbents feared defeat due to our refusal to vote predictably, we would have real power. While it is certainly true that we are likely to see much more wrongheaded myopic policies under a Republican President and Congress than under a divided government or a government controlled by Democrats, the policies would not be as far to the right as one might expect. It is no difficult task to propose nonsensical policies appealing to your base when you have no chance of ever actually enacting the policies. Once in power, reelection becomes job number one, and dismantling Medicare and Social Security would soon be off the table.