Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Scenarios

It's almost over except for the shouting and more than likely a large segment of the population convinced the election results "stolen" no matter how it turns out for either Obama or Romney.  But it's basically down to these five scenarios:

Romney wins the Presidency, Republicans keep control of House, Democrats keep control of the Senate

If Romney wins, it will most likely be due to a strong Republican voter turnout (and an effective suppression / machine-rigging effort) which means the House elections will overall favor the GOP.  Certain candidates - the wackier ones like Allan West and Michele Bachmann - may lose out, but thanks to the age-old tested system of gerrymandering the Republicans can guarantee themselves two more cozy years of doing almost nothing in the House.
The Democratic Party keeping control of the Senate is looking to be a more likely thing regardless of the Presidential votes: Senate seats aren't gerrymandered - so far - and the odds of most of the Democratic incumbents returning are right now pretty solid.  The Republicans may yet take Missouri's Senate seat - to a candidate Todd Akin who out of all the Senate candidates out there LEAST deserves to win, will you WAKE UP MISSOURI DO YOU WANT AN IDIOT REPRESENTING YOUR STATE? - but may lose Massachusetts' seat as Elizabeth Warren now has a slight lead on Scott "Oh God Please Massachusetts Buy My BS About Being a Moderate" Brown.  Since the Democrats already have a 5-seat lead, switching seats or even losing one or two won't switch the Senate to the GOP.  That would take a huge upset of most the Senate elections, and in states where the GOP can't guarantee to suppress the vote or rig the machines...
What this means: does the phrase "We f-cking went back to the George W. Bush years?" mean anything to you.  Romney's platform may have flip-flopped all over the place, but his one constant has been that massive tax cut favoring the upper incomes, meaning that a majority of voters have once again ignored the consequences of Dubya's tax cuts of 2001-2003: cuts that led to nothing but massive deficits, and had no effect on job growth or economic stimulus but great effect on income inequality.  With a House willing to vote his way, all Romney needs is to get them to pass a version of his tax plan through the Reconciliation process requiring only a simple majority vote in the Senate... and then twist enough Democratic Senators' votes to get the 51 (or 50, as VP Paul Ryan can cast the tie-breaker) to pass it.  And then our economy will go into the crapper, the deficits will get worse, and you can expect Romney to blame Obama's term for the woes during his 2016 campaign, because after all tax cuts can never fail...
And that's the economic woes.  On another domestic front, Romney and the Republicans made such an effort calling for the repeal of RomneyCare ObamaCare that once in office Jan. 2013 they are going to be expected by their tea-partier wingnut base to actually repeal the whole thing.  Romney may yet weasel out of that, but like Molly Ivins said you gotta dance with what brung ya, and with a wingnut-inspired House egging him on we're bound to see portions of ObamaCare get cut... most likely bringing an end to efforts to cap escalating health care costs, which *is* something that can kill our economy right quick.  Not to mention the Medicare/Medicaid "reforms" that will turn Medicare into a voucher program that WON'T keep up with costs and Medicaid into a sorely underfunded block grant to states trying to keep the elderly and children pretty much alive.  This is where the Senate may prove a block to the repeal efforts, but one thing that has to happen is that ObamaCare is going to need funding, and all the House has to do is refuse to compromise on what gets spent and still be able to kill off those parts of ObamaCare they want dead.
And that's not even touching on the women's health issues.  The push by the pro-fetus crowd has never been more severe than this election cycle.  At least in previous cycles the major candidates favored exceptions for abortion such as rape/incest and the health of the mother.  But more and more Republican leaders - Akin and Ryan the more dangerous ones - refuse to even accept those concepts as "legitimate" and are ready and eager to ban abortion altogether (with vague "personhood" laws that would make even natural miscarriages equal to murder). Combine this with their push to deny cheaper health care coverage for birth control pills and other contraceptives, and you've got the makings of a society where women have no choices or means of taking care of their own bodies, and worse yet vulnerable to the whims of any rapist and stuck with pregnancies they morally do not accept.
And as for foreign policy... hoo boy.  When you've got a candidate in Romney who CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER maps showing how Iran has its own access to the sea without bothering with Syria which doesn't even border Iran, you've got a potential President whose grasp of foreign affairs isn't tenuous it's non-existent.  Romney does not impress our allies, this is a given.  Most of those nations' leaders were in power or close to during the Bush the Lesser years and they do NOT have fond memories of him.  Putting into the White House a man they are ALREADY viewing as WORSE THAN Dubya and you've got a recipe for disaster.  And speaking of disaster: A Romney administration is going to rely on the dregs of the Dubya years, a collection of Cheney-inspired neoconservatives obsessed with proving their manhood by sending other men off to die in mismanaged wars.  While a Democratic Senate may temper some of the foreign policy miscues that are bound to happen, the fact is most foreign affairs are handled by the Executive Branch, and it's up to them in the State Dept. and the White House to make treaties, maintain foreign ties, and represent us overseas.  Meaning the Romney crew can do whatever they like within the constraints of the Constitution.  Meaning, we're screwed...

Romney wins the Presidency, Republicans retain control of the House, Republican gain control of the Senate.

Very unlikely, but possible if the voter turnout is that good for Romney to win, it may trickle down to enough of the Senate races to give the Republicans the edge, or at least a 50-50 tie where Paul Ryan becomes the tie-breaker vote every time.
Under this scenario, everything mentioned above WILL happen, only more worse.  The Republicans will go into power under the delusion that their agenda won them control (when in fact it's going to be their fear-mongering and voter suppression efforts).  There won't be any Democrats in the Senate able to temper a full-bore tax-cut abortion-banning healthcare-killing war-hungry GOP agenda.  The Republicans will even pursue their "voter fraud" obsessions by passing tougher registration and ID laws for the whole nation (Republicans abandon states' rights within a heartbeat if it means completing their wingnut agenda).  It would be much like what we had between 2001 to 2006, only abortion WILL be on the table and most likely banned entirely, along with birth control.  We'll be Ireland, without the advantages of having England nearby for a gray market means of access (Canada, maybe, but most of our liberal states already border our cousins to the north eh?  It'll be the Red States down south - ironically where birth control and women's health are needed the most - that will suffer...). 

Obama wins the Presidency, Republicans retain the House, Republicans win narrow control of the Senate.

This is a very unlikely scenario under the Obama Wins multiverse branches.  While an Obama win is the statistical likelihood and the Republicans keeping the House also a statistical likelihood... as I mentioned earlier most of the Senate races seem set with only two possible up-for-grab seats at play, meaning the Democrats at least keep an advantage (as the Independents in the Senate caucus with the Dems).
But if the Republicans DO gain control of the Senate...
Just remember the level of obstruction the Republicans were able to perform with just the House under their control during the 112th Congress.  Combined with their Senate colleagues invoking cloture votes at twice the previous record total, and almost nothing got done.  Under this scenario of winning the Senate, the Republicans will hold Congress entirely under their control... and this will be a Senate that most likely includes the aforementioned moran Todd Akin.  Prepare for political war.
The Republican agenda of obstructing Obama at all costs will not abate under the general public expectations for bipartisan work.  Remember, the Far Right concept of bipartisanship is that "Democrats fold to us on everything".  They are going to want to force Obama to play their game their way, pushing for their tax cuts and spending cuts at the same time.  Refusing to fill any if all executive and judicial nominations that the government needs filled to operate effectively.  The push to investigate the Obama administration for every slight, every error, every possibility of an offense they can use as an excuse to impeach... I am not making this up.  We've seen this before during the Clinton administration, where they started off investigating Clinton's land deals and ended up impeaching him for lying about blow jobs.  Any excuse to impeach...
The only reason why the Republicans never followed through on their attempts to impeach Obama (and yes, they have filed such attempts for example over Obama's use of force in Libya without Congressional approval even though previous Presidents used such levels of force without so much as a hiccup from Congress...) during this congressional term is the obvious fact that an actual crime has to be found for the general public to even pretend it's needed, and it didn't help that a Democratic Senate would never follow through.  But with a Senate that will at least present an impeachment proceeding on the floor (even though the Republicans will NEVER get a 2/3rd majority needed to successfully impeach), the Congressional Republicans can use the impeachment proceedings to weaken, de-legitimatize, and embarrass Obama before the world and for history.  And they can do that over and over to their hearts content for at least 2 years while nothing else gets done.

Obama wins the Presidency, Republicans retain control of the House, Democrats retain control of the Senate.

Under the Obama Wins scenarios this is the most likely result.  This is how the stats and numbers are looking at the moment for the polling experts (pretty much Nate Silver).  It will pretty much be a status quo result bringing us back to what we've had the last two years.
And even then, this isn't a good scenario because the Republican agenda of obstructing Obama will not abate.
Whether this Congressional term (113th) gets anything done will depend on the Democratic leadership in the Senate (Harry Reid) agreeing to do what most of the Democratic base begged the Senate to do back in 2011: drop the cloture vote to a simple majority or even get rid of the filibuster rule altogether.  While the Republicans will scream bloody murder, the filibuster is NOT a requirement for the Senate to operate.  It's only been part of the parliamentary order voted on at the beginning of each term, and can always be voted out.  While there may be a need for a filibuster, its' abuse over the last 20 years have made it impossible to get much of anything done, and especially hampered our Judiciary by failing to fill posts, forcing fewer judges to handle greater caseloads.  If anything, dropping the Cloture requirement from a 60-vote to a simple majority will make it harder for the Republicans to even threaten a filibuster: they can still try, but all that will do is make for partisan theater.  With that done, the nomination processes should be smoother and more government positions filled.
The only problem then will be dealing with a Republican House standing as the "last bastion" against an Obama-dominated regime.  If it was a job herding cats before, this will be like working as an alligator teeth puller operating without pliers and standing waist-deep in a swamp.  The fight to get anything resembling a budget will be close to impossible without the wingnut faction in the House getting everything they want (which in a sane world won't happen).  Obama may yet want to finish out a second term where SOMETHING got done for job growth and economic stimulus, but the House will fight that every inch of the way.  And some legislation HAS to start in the House, not the Senate.  Meaning something approaching compromise has to be done... and Lord knows what Obama may have to give up in order to get a jobs bill passed...

Obama wins the Presidency, Democrats gain control of the House, Democrats retain control of the Senate.

If this election was a complete blowout for Obama, this might be plausible.  If the voter turnout among Democrats and moderates voting that way really did reach the levels required to win over enough House districts to reclaim the House after two years, this might be plausible.  But let's face facts: enough gerrymandered districts still exist in enough states to ensure enough Republican incumbents will stay, and in some redrawn districts the Republicans could gain a few more.  It's possible that in the process of gerrymandering, the Republicans spread themselves too thin to where enough Democrats and independent voters can sway the turnout their way (much like what happened in Texas when they made a ton of Republican-friendly districts but at a +1 or +2 advantage, very narrow odds of success there, and ended up losing an incumbent or two while the Dems cruised to +10 friendly districts).  But unlikely.
There's a 240 R - 190 D count at the moment.  For the Democrats to regain the House, they need to flip 26 of those seats, plus 3 of the current vacancies, to reach 219 seats over the Republicans' 218.  Historically, that percentage of flipped seats (five percent) has been hard to reach, especially in an era when entrenched Congressional incumbents have a 98 percent success rate (it'd be 99 percent, but there's that margin for error to consider).
But under the What If rules, this IS possible, so it needs consideration.
There will be a brief period of Democratic jubilation and relief.  The most likely opening moves would be to get a budget out that covers most of what Obama pledged: a tax hike on only the upper incomes (those in the 2 percent bracket) as well as a stimulus package combining job bills alongside spending programs on infrastructure to boost the construction industry.
The biggest struggles Obama had his first term during the 111th Congress where he had both Houses was due to the Senate blocking him with Cloture and Secret Holds (it didn't help that there were enough conservative Democrats to force Obama to wrangle out deals he otherwise didn't need to make).  As mentioned before in another scenario, if Reid follows through in dropping the Cloture requirement to simple majority it should free up that particular logjam.
The biggest problem will be legitimacy.  The current Republican leadership - Limbaugh, Norquist, Fox Not-News talking heads - have proven before to be sore losers.  No matter what for an Obama win, the cries of "voter fraud" and the Birther effort to deny Obama his own citizenship will merge into a huge hatefest that will be worse than we've already seen.  And what we've already been through since 2009 has been scary enough.  But under this scenario, where even the safety of retaining the House of Representatives doesn't happen, the screams WILL get worse, the agenda to obstruct WILL go into areas of madness that could border on open revolt...  The telling sign will be what the lame-duck session of the 112th House will do: if they lost the House with Obama winning, expect them impeaching Obama as first order of business.
No matter what, folks, do not expect the noise to die off after November 6th.  It's not over until common sense prevails...

These are the scenarios as I see 'em.  Still and all, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET THE VOTE OUT AND VOTE OBAMA.  Thank you.

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