“Working with Congress” Won’t Be Possible for Clinton

Republicans are wasting no time in showing the country that they’ll do anything to hamper basic governance in the event that Clinton wins the presidency.  While they’re not enthusiastic about helping Trump beat her in November, most Congressional Republicans are giving the signal that there will be unprecedented obstruction and no honeymoon period:

That means the bipartisan show of support she has now — thanks to Donald Trump and the “alt-right,” conspiracy-driven campaign Clinton attacked Thursday in Reno — is likely to evaporate as soon as the race is called. If she wins the presidency, Clinton would likely enjoy the shortest honeymoon period of any incoming commander-in-chief in recent history, according to Washington strategists, confronting major roadblocks to enacting her ambitious agenda, as well as Republican attacks that have been muted courtesy of the GOP nominee.

This isn’t a surprise, of course. The GOP has been erasing the norms of bipartisanship and respect for governing institutions for decades now, beginning at least with Gingrich and friends. Now today’s GOP won’t even consider a Democratic president’s nomination for the Supreme Court.

As a matter of political campaigns, it means that the “I can work with Congress” talking point should be permanently retired. No Democratic president can lay a claim to being able to work with Congress better than any other, because as long as Republicans are in charge of either chamber there is no working with Congress. Budgets will still get passed in eleventh-hour hostage taking and post offices will be renamed, but there won’t be any compromise by most people’s definition.

As a matter of legislative priorities it means that Clinton’s biggest influence (assuming she wins) will be in making appointments. Since the GOP will try to block all her appointments, anyway, she might as well make the nominations she wants, rather than the ones she thinks a few Republicans might accept.

As a matter of electoral priority, it means that retaking Congress is of paramount importance for Democrats.

Finally and most importantly, no matter how much of a platform Politico and certain clueless high-ranking Democrats might want to give them, it’s time to kick Third Way to the curb forever.

“It will be the defining fact of her presidency,” Jonathan Cowan, president of the moderate think tank Third Way, said of Clinton’s problem of entering office with a divided Congress. “It’s unprecedented.”

“What that would leave her with is an absolute imperative to govern from the center,” said Cowan, a former Bill Clinton White House official. “She will have no choice. There is no choice. Obama will have picked most of the low hanging executive orders, and she’ll be in this Grover Cleveland moment.”

So-called Democrats like Cowan need to be exiled from influence and shipped to political Siberia. In an era of permanent GOP obstruction there is no such thing as governing from the “center” because there is no center. The Republicans will try to put a poison pill in anything they can’t stop directly. Whatever they can’t directly poison, they’ll try to put so many corporate-friendly giveaways into that in most cases it would be better to do nothing than to pass whatever corrupt Frankenstein bill they see fit to allow through House committees.

There’s no point in trying to work with these people. They simply have to be defeated at the ballot box.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.