Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Scary Supermajority

If things break just right, the Democrats could end up with more power than any one party has had in a long time--and it scares me. If the Democrats end up with 60 seats in the Senate, they will have a supermajority that is fillibuster-proof. Unchecked power is a bad thing and is bound to lead to several bad outcomes. The Wall Street Journal gives us A Liberal Supermajority, which describes some fears about this scenario. I'll focus on the two that are clearest to me.

Wanton expansion of governmental power -- The recent economic downturn has cast a very bleak light on the free market system. Oversight is needed and the lack of it is among the factors that have led us to this very ugly economic place. Many people lost lots of money at the expense of greedy people and so there is significant appetite for governmental action. Democrats are poised to surge to increased power on the wake of this crisis and my fear is that they might go too far with governmental action. A fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a president who is on their side could mean that the democrats can completely ignore the Republicans.

Backlash -- Now to be really cynical. When the feds make big mistakes handling our current economic problems (mistakes will definitely be made) and when the situation in Iraq (remember that big issue?) doesn't start looking really good really quickly (it probably won't improve quickly), the Democrats will have nobody to blame. This could swing things back the other way.

What is the answer? The mileage the Republicans have been getting out of Joe the Plumber's "That sounds like socialism" comment should give the Dems pause. Even though they won't need to politically, the Democrats would be well-advised to reach across the aisle on big (especially economic) issues. Perhaps some help from the GOP can keep the Dem-controlled federal government from pushing too much toward making Joe's fears a reality.

A couple days after I drafted this, I read David Frum's Sorry Senator, Let's Salvage What We Can in the Washington Post. About the federal government's "...huge ownership stake in the nation's financial system....", Frum says:
The United States needs Republicans and conservatives to monitor the way Democrats wield this extraordinary and dangerous new power -- and to pressure them to surrender it as rapidly as feasible.
Amen, Mr. Frum.

1 comment:

Sasha said...

Too much of one thing is never good ...