We are now just two weeks from the midterm elections, and it is becoming clear that the Democrats are likely to lose control of the Senate. It is not a done deal, were the feckless, ne’er-do-well Democratic base to get off its collective duff and just wander over to the polls to vote, we could avoid the unpleasantness of Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader, but I am afraid the outcome universally considered most likely will in fact be the outcome that we get, so it is not too early to speculate on what it will all mean. Herewith some idle guesses, worth roughly as much as the effort they cost me to put into words. Treat them accordingly.
First of all, I think we can assume the day of the filibuster is over, so the Republicans will be able to pass any legislation they wish. Getting it signed is of course another matter. This will present the Senate Republicans with a very difficult problem. The House Republicans will certainly wish to repeal the Affordable care Act and pass all manner of anti-abortion legislation, etc. But in 2016, the electoral map will as unfavorable to the Senate Republicans as the 2014 map is to the Democrats, so the vulnerable Republican senators will not wish to have their fingerprints on a good deal of reactionary legislation that could come back to haunt them in 2016. Some very interesting fights may spring up within the Republican Party.
There will be two months between the loss of the Senate and the installation of the new Senators, so there is in fact time to fill some more vacant federal judgeships. Unfortunately [and quite incomprehensibly] Obama has been derelict in nominating candidates for District Court and Appeals Court judgeships. The Bush White House was quite industrious in this regard, with a large staff in the White House Counsel’s Office devoted to the matter. Under Obama, this function has been understaffed and neglected. Why? It beats me. Doing that would have been a freebie. It is an example not so much of ideological failing as sheer malfeasance.
In the wake of a loss of the Senate, Hillary Clinton will move up the announcement of her candidacy for the presidency in order to present herself as the salvation of disheartened liberals. This will be a fraud, but it will work, and as liberals watch the efforts of a mobilized and energized Republican Party to dismantle the last tottering structures of the New Deal legacy, they will allow themselves to be conned into thinking that Clinton is in some manner a savior. In the absence of a real liberal candidate, she will waltz into the nomination and win the 2016 Presidential race against some far right crazy put up by Republican right wingers convinced their moment has come.
The next ten years – my eighties – are going to be unusually difficult for someone of my persuasion. But with any luck, my nineties will be more cheerful. Since the Tigger in me is irrepressible, I shall approach my centenary with a light heart. Of course, by then my morning walk may take me most of the day.