The Process Worked Again

Reprinted from

Help me out with this:
— The Republican “brand” is seriously damaged.
— The number of people voting for Republicans is continuing to shrink.
— Republicans can’t win without increasing the votes of people of color.
— Voters disapprove of the President; dislike Congressional Democrats more; and hate Congressional Republicans most of all.

And, yet, no matter what the final numbers are, there is no doubt this was a huge win for Republicans.

Republicans will organize the Senate. They will have a larger majority in the House. There were no negative surprises for the GOP anywhere in the country – at least at the statewide level.

If American voters are angry with Washington, and I think they are, then there is only one way to demonstrate that anger nationally: Vote against the President.

In this case the President is Barack Obama.

In 2009, three days after he had been inaugurated, President Obama famously told then-Republican Congressman Eric Cantor: “I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.”

When the President sailed to re-election in 2012 his minions ran out to every TV studio in Washington to remind us that “elections matter” and that Obama had run on, and won on, the issue of Obamacare.

If elections mattered then, this election matters now. If winning trumped losing for Obama in 2009, then winning trumps losing for Congressional Republicans in 2014.

Will Barack Obama sulk and brood his way through the final two years of his Presidency? Will he get his back up and try to make policy by Executive Order? Or, will he reach out to the Congress he has not wanted to deal with over the past four years (since the GOP took control of the House) and try to negotiate legislation that benefit America?

It is likely that Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) will be Senate Majority Leader and John Boehner (R-Oh) will be Speaker of the House. These are not newcomers to managing the troops. Neither are they newcomers in understanding the written and unwritten rules of their respective chambers.

I assume – although I do not know – that teams of senior Republican staffers from both the House and Senate have been working to establish an agenda of what legislation they would like to pass and send to the President.

Moving legislation through the House is a pretty straightforward deal: If I have one more vote than you have I control everything. I control every Committee, every Subcommittee; I control what comes to the floor and when. Unlike the Senate I can pass a bill as long as I have one more vote than you do.

In the Senate – depending upon the rules the Republican majority adopts – many bills will still require 60 votes before they can be adopted.

Democrats in the Senate will not support legislation that the White House signals the President will veto. The Congress can override a Presidential veto, but it ain’t easy. The Constitution (Article I, Section 7, clause 2) requires a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate.

So, it just doesn’t make sense for the GOP to force bills to the President’s desk if they think he will use what has become known as the “veto pen.”

I think it would be a mistake for the Congressional Republicans to continue to run against Barack Obama. When the Executive Branch and the Senate were in the hands of Democrats, House Republicans could make a case for being the only buffer to stop bad policy.

With the GOP in control of the entire Article I branch – the Congress – they have to prove to the American public that they not only can stop bad policy, but can develop and pass good policy.

There are states yet to be decided as I type this on Tuesday night – New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia to name three – so we don’t have a final count of how many seats the GOP will have in the Senate.

But Newt Gingrich made an important point on CNN last night: “Campaigns matter. Candidates matter and, by the way, your vote matters. Every American should be proud of the process that produced these close races across the nation.”


Editor’s Note: Rich Galen is former communications director for House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Dan Quayle. In 2003-2004, he did a six-month tour of duty in Iraq at the request of the White House engaging in public affairs with the Department of Defense. He also served as executive director of GOPAC and served in the private sector with Electronic Data Systems. Rich is a frequent lecturer and appears often as a political expert on ABC, CNN, Fox and other news outlets.