Behold the end of divided government

By Jordan Harp

In all likelihood, today’s results will make Barack Obama our next president. In addition to that, Democrats are poised to pick up several seats in the Senate, possibly to a filibuster-proof 60, as well as many House seats, and obtain a viselike grip on the federal government.

Such likely electoral success has been brought on by a perfect storm of sorts. A president with approval ratings in the 20s, a seemingly unrelenting economic crisis, as well as Republican retirements and legal troubles, have led to a dismal outlook for the GOP.

It’s definitely good news for Senator Obama. One of the main refrains heard throughout his campaign has been that he will bring about unity and end the politics of division. With such big majorities in both houses of Congress, a lot of the work is being done for him.

It might be hard with all of these euphoric feelings flowing through us, but perhaps we should take a rational step back to look at what is about to happen. We all like the idea of unity, it’s appealing and makes us feel good, but government actually happens to be one of those places where division is probably best.

The framers of the Constitution set up a system to prevent any one branch from obtaining too much power. We all know this as checks and balances. In addition to that, the bicameral legislature we have today prevents any one party from gaining too much power, as different parts of the country elect ideologically different people to represent them.

Yet the result of today’s election will most likely end that. With large gains in Washington, and an Obama win, the Democrats will view it as a mandate from the American people, especially if Obama wins by a sizeable margin. With virtually unassailable majorities in both the House and Senate and one in the White House, Democrats will be able to do, for the most part, whatever they want.

And what they want to do is a little worrisome.

Throughout his campaign, Obama has done a tactful dance toward the center. He, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has made promises throughout his campaign to work in a bipartisan manner. But with unfettered control of government, partisanship is all he, Senate majority leader Harry Reid and Speaker Pelosi will need to achieve the Democratic agenda, and with no such checks or balances, why hold back?

Health care could be the first stop. Obama has been careful not to mention universal health care, knowing there is public resistance to that. Yet his plan would bring a large portion of insurance under government control, and with Congressional support, he could attempt to achieve his ideal single-payer system.

Free trade will also come under attack due to Democrats’ need to capitulate to big labor. Obama has said he will renegotiate NAFTA, and opposes CAFTA. He and Pelosi have also spoken out against any free trade agreement with Colombia, our biggest ally in the region in the drug war and one that has made huge gains against the terrorist organizations like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Along with that union influence will come the ‘Employee Free Choice Act.’ The act was proposed last year but met defeat in the Senate. Despite its buttery sounding name, the act would allow unions to perform card checks among workers it wishes to represent, and effectively eliminate a secret ballot. Union bosses would know which employees are against unionization, whom they could then intimidate or harass into supporting it. So much for free and fair.

The ‘green revolution’ will finally take place with all the ferocity environmental groups want. Cap-and-trade programs, windfall profits tax on oil companies, and new fuel standards imposed on already struggling American car companies would all be part of it.

Other dreams of the left that could come true include reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine, another misleadingly named act, which would allow the government to intervene in talk radio, the one medium conservatives dominate.

Also, “net neutrality,” the third in the line of misleadingly named acts would allow the FCC to impose regulations on Internet providers under the imaginary fears of content discrimination, doing away with the government’s “hands-off” Internet policy.

Under Republican control, we saw increasing deficits, an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq, and a general loss of good government stewardship. Why do people believe it will be much different with Democrats in charge? Change might be coming; the question is, how much?

Jordan is a junior in LAS and wants you to go vote now if you haven’t already.