At the start of the week, the Real Clear Politics roundup of recent polling on congressional races indicated that if “leaning” seats were awarded to the current leader, Republicans have a good chance of gaining control of the U.S. Senate and retaining the House in November.
Further, Real Clear Politics’ average of presidential approval polls had President Obama at about 42 percent (www.realclearpolitics.com).
Obama’s rating matters this fall, as Washington Post political correspondent Chris Cillizza wrote July 24, because in a recent Pew Research Center poll, “Roughly three in 10 people said that their vote this fall would be ‘against’ Obama as compared to just 19 percent who said that their vote would be to show support for the president.
“What those numbers suggest,” Cillizza wrote, “is that while Obama is not the only factor in how people will vote this fall, he is absolutely a factor in how people are making up their minds. And, at the moment, people who see 2014 as a way to send a signal of disapproval about Obama greatly outnumber the people who want to use their vote to show their support for him and his agenda.”
So, despite the fact that Congress’ approval rating is a dismal 12 percent in the Real Clear Politics average, that includes the Democratic Senate as well as the Republican House.
And the Senate is where dozens of House-passed reform proposals have gone to die, strangled by the hands of Majority Leader Harry Reid with little or no media coverage.
So, which party is the real “enemy of progress”?
However, the question remains: Will Republicans act effectively if they hold a congressional majority? Sadly, it’s not at all clear they will.
A rejuvenated Republican majority in Congress should act to create substantive plans for health care reform, economic growth (including a re-examination of our total tax system and energy and environmental policies), the restraint of crony capitalism, a restructured social welfare system and a solid immigration bill that would seal our southern border before any other action is taken.
They would solicit input widely, codify their reforms in fully formed legislative measures and submit them for Obama to either sign or veto.
And if his decision was to veto them, then they could become the party’s platform for the 2016 presidential race, where any potential nominees would have a fully formed program on which to campaign – leaving the Democratic nominee to either oppose them as Obama did (and thus be forced to produce alternatives) or defend the status quo.
Which, as the polls note, isn’t very palatable to voters, as Real Clear Politics’ “U.S. is on the wrong track” average tops 64 percent. Even former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank says the administration “lied” about Obamacare. When you’ve lost Barney, things are bad indeed.
Will Republicans act with one effective voice? I hope so, but there are serious doubts that they can be that unified – or, with some notable exceptions, that savvy.
Still, with one poll saying Americans would elect Mitt Romney now if the 2012 race were run over again, maybe they don’t have to be either one to win.
But to lead effectively after they do take office? That’s another question. And since many of our present ills cannot be solved by political means, we’re in even worse shape than mere polls can measure.
A few weeks ago, I discussed how many new casinos nationwide are finding they can only survive by stealing customers from established ones.
But I had also noted that in 2003, two Maine Indian tribes had sponsored a referendum for a casino “in York County.”
Shortly thereafter, a letter writer from Sanford took me to task for what she called an “error,” saying the ballot question had included no location.
That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. Here’s what the Portland Press Herald said a few days before the vote:
“Sanford is where the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation want to build one of the state’s largest construction projects ever if voters approve the Nov. 4 referendum that would allow the tribes to operate a gambling casino in return for 25 percent of the slot revenues.”
The tribes had placed an option on a 325-acre parcel near the airport, the paper said, and added, “Sanford won the tribes’ favor when it became the only community in southern Maine to open the door to a casino last fall. The non-binding referendum asking residents if they favored legalized gambling in town passed by a 540-vote margin, with just more than half of the voters showing up at the polls.”
As it turned out, a majority in Sanford flipped sides and joined the state’s electorate in defeating the measure in November.
But if it had passed, and Sanford approved it, then that is where it was planned to be built.
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: