Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How Much Govt Gridlock Do We Want?

Everytime we turn around, another article is being written about Democrats taking over the Congress in November. Meanwhile, Republican Governor -- and presidential hopeful -- Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has gotten his controversial health insurance plan passed through a state legislature controlled by Democrats.

Even as it becomes increasingly likely that Democrats' "culture of corruption" campaign theme will backfire (Rep. William Jefferson and Sen. Harry Reid), the question of how such a schism in Washington would work persists. (Despite the de facto Senate Democrat majority giving us clear guidance that it won't pan out very well.) Further, if Romney's big-government health care plan can be used as a guide -- and I think it can -- the GOP would be well-advised to stick with an admittedly uninspiring "Democrats would be worse" theme this fall. The alternative clearly involves conservative/liberal hybrid governing that gives us losers like the Medicare prescription drug benefit, No Child Left Behind, and RomneyCare (or, as in Kentucky, Tax Modernization).

While executives like President Bush and Governor Romney get to claim credit for working with political opponents, Americans are left to wonder if we might all be better off if our political figures weren't getting along so well.

Democrats have struggled with the "obstructionist" label, even while celebrating their obstruction of Social Security reform last year. Despite their dubious triumph against Social Security continuing to cost us many billions of dollars, might their tactics prove useful for conservatives should Democrats gain seats?

Probably would. Some hard-core conservatives want to see it happen in order to "send a message" to middle of the road Republicans. While that approach is commonly credited with giving us Reagan, the stakes in the War on Terror are just too high for a full retreat now. What is missed too often is the race between the two parties to see which one will self-destruct first. Liberal versus conservative members of both parties are playing tug-o-war. Those who manage not to lose their grip on the rope first will determine much of our nation's future.