Will anyone be able to govern?

When the dust clears in November, the odds are pretty good that neither party will control enough of the levers of power in our system of separated and balanced powers to accomplish anything big without the cooperation of the other party.

Looking at the past month or two of the campaign, which most experts say has gone more negative earlier than past campaigns, Stu Rothenberg raises the question this morning of whether, after a campaign like this is shaping up to be, anyone will be able to govern. Here’s a taste from Rothenberg’s piece:

“The one thing that is certain is that either Obama or Romney will be sworn in as president in January and will have to govern. But unless the nature of the campaigns changes dramatically between now and November — an unlikely development — the winner won’t have established much of a rationale for his term. Moreover, he will have contributed to the poisoned atmosphere in Washington, D.C., that will greet him.

“Not surprisingly, the Romney message is that Obama has failed. Yes, the challenger’s campaign has an agenda, but it seems little more than the litany of worn-out buzzwords and slogans about taxes, spending and ‘big government’ that we have heard for the past 25 years.

“Trying to make the 2012 election a simple referendum about unemployment and economic growth certainly is Romney’s best strategy, but it doesn’t help him build support for an agenda if he wins.

“Similarly, Obama’s effort to discredit Romney as a potential president is a good strategy, but it doesn’t position him to accomplish much during a second term. And if the president’s proposal on ending the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year is an indication, a second Obama term would be a regurgitation of proposals left over from the first term, hardly a hopeful sign given likely Republican control of the House next year.

“Given both campaigns so far and the expected increase in both the volume and the meanness of attacks as Election Day approaches, November’s winner will be greeted by an opposition party disinclined to give the new president the benefit of the doubt on anything. This is particularly the case if Obama wins a second term, because Republicans in Congress will instantly be thinking about 2014 and Obama’s second midterm elections.”

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/18/2012 - 10:49 am.

    We don’t really need either more or less government, we need better government. Other countries educate children better for less, maintain better public health for less, build necessary infrastructure. The Democrats introduce well-meaning social welfare systems that seek to be all things to all people, and those systems get mired in inefficiency, corruption, complexity and misplaced incentives. The Republicans only want to tear things down. A real reformer in either party would instead try to improve the country through simplifying and reducing programs to their essentials, but either party would crucify him if he tried.

  2. Submitted by Tom Clark on 07/18/2012 - 11:24 am.

    What a silly question

    A re-elected President Obama will be able to govern, just as Bush did after being re-elected in 2004. I think that with the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that there will be plenty left for Obama to do anyway along with nursing a still-limping economy to better health. The example of President Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security should give pause to anyone who thinks that it’s necessary to push for radical change in a second-term Presidency.

  3. Submitted by Rich Crose on 07/18/2012 - 11:53 am.

    They don’t need to worry about governing

    They need to worry about being assassinated.

    They way they’re raking up fear and loathing and telling us that your way of life is going to end if the other one gets elected, someone who’s way of life has ended is going to buy a gun.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/18/2012 - 02:04 pm.

    If the Repubs win

    then we’ll continue to have ungovernment.

    If Obama wins and the Dems retake the House, then maybe enough of the Repubs will realize that they’re flushing their own future down the tubes, and will decide that they have more future in being a ‘loyal opposition’.

  5. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 07/18/2012 - 09:59 pm.

    Answer: No

    The most likely scenario is that the President wins re-election by a slim margin, the House stays the same with maybe a few Republican gains, the Senate remains controlled by the Democrats but with an even slimmer margin. We end up with four more years just like the last four. Unless the President decides to change course and work with Congress or Congress changes it’s leadership and tries to work with the President the country will just muddle along until 2016 and a Republican president.

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