Friday, March 8, 2013

Changes

So, it's been a while since I posted. I keep meaning to, but things have been very busy here recently and I haven't had time. Quite a bit has happened, which makes it even harder to just jump back in. But I wanted to point out an interesting and, in my opinion, important trend that I've noticed.

Ever since Obama's reelection, Republicans in the House have been acting differently. They've scaled back their rhetoric on a large number of topics, from the VAWA bill to immigration and entitlements, and even on taxes. Basically, they've made some strides toward the center.

While they've been doing that, they've been digging in their heels in other areas. The sequester (which they then tried to end, but only for the military-industrial complex), Wall Street Reform, and nominations have all been targeted recently for the GOP, which has solidified their positions on these issues by grandstanding (literally, in the case of Rand Paul), mass obstructionism, and essentially business as usual.

In other words, the GOP is moving while standing still. The reason for this, I think, is to put themselves in a good position for 2016. They failed in their attempt to oust Obama by sheer force of hyper-partisan willpower. In the 2012 elections, they tried to ignite their base at the expense of the general electorate. In 2016, they seem to be looking for a broader support system to carry them into the White House. They won't be facing a popular incumbent, and so I think they are attempting to build a track record that is more popular with the general public.

The VAWA is a great example, as is their renewed stance on immigration reform. In both cases, the GOP was once a staunch opposition to reform in both areas, and used their muscle in the House to kill any new measures. The VAWA reinstatement alone took months of back and forth wrangling over something as simple as protecting victims of violence in same-sex relationships. Standing on this principle during election season may have been smart, but digging in their heels on a bill that has major public support would have been stupid.

How does this change things in Washington? I think that it speaks to a slight change to the normal gridlock we've been seeing. I think we'll see a bit more movement in Congress to pass largely popular bills and nominations through without so much fuss. We're still going to see major opposition to big legislative measures, but it would take a miracle to change that. All in all, Congress seems to be working a little smoother, and I hope that it will continue to do so for our benefit.

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