At his post-election presser today, Pres. Obama was asked how he feels after the Republican trouncing. “It doesn’t make me mopey, it energizes me,” Obama replied.
The President fielded tough questions with aplomb, unflappable as usual. I find it reassuring to have a leader who, no matter what’s thrown at him, he keeps his composure and reflects. He doesn’t go off half-cocked, singing, “Bomb, bomb Iran!”
With a Republican congress and a judiciary dominated by conservatives, what will happen to the issues dear to Democrats and spurned by Republicans? What will happen, for example, to the president’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act? What will happen to climate-change imperatives like emissions control when Mitch McConnell, the presumptive majority leader, represents a state whose economy is almost entirely dependent on coal?
The Republicans have vowed to dismantle the ACA, but most of the millions of people now covered by Obamacare are happy with it. Many Republicans are climate-change deniers, so others who fear the predicted floods, food shortages and extreme weather that are coming as a result of climate change are understandably apprehensive. Billionaires like the Koch brothers, whose money flows from fossil fuels, are committed to investing millions to ensure that coal- and oil-friendly measures become law. Democrats want to regulate guns and gun ownership, and many Republicans refuse to allow any regulation that may inhibit their Second-Amendment rights.
Republicans are unwilling to grant the president any victories, so they oppose any initiative of his simply because it is his. But now they are in charge. Just as they blame Obama for everything that has happened on his watch, even the crises he inherited from his Republican predecessor, the public will hold the party in power responsible.
There will be another election in two years. Will Republicans who want to be reelected really sabotage the healthcare millions depend on? Unlikely. If there’s another Sandy or Katrina, if the coastal cities flood, if the drought in the West worsens and water supplies continue to dry up while Republicans continue to pooh-pooh climate change and refuse to cut emissions, how many people who lose their homes will reelect them? On immigration, they are hard-liners. How will they cultivate the Hispanic vote that they desperately need if they don’t give way on immigration?
It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but it may not take us where we expect.