This post was originally posted at The New Democrat
National Journal: Opinion: Norm Ornstein: What If Independents Keep Senate Majority In Flux?
What if, what if, what if, what question is more fun to ask and even ask yourself than what if? But why it is such a fun question to ask, is because it gives people a chance to imagine and throw out countless hypotheticals and imagine all sorts of interesting things. But to speak about Norm Ornstein’s what if, he may be on to something right now because of how partisan and divided America is politically right now. With an unpopular President, but an unpopular Republican opposition that Americans aren’t crazy about having complete control of Congress, both the House and Senate.
This is where the centrists, or as I prefer the more independently minded Senators and Senate candidates come into play. Because let’s say we do have a 50-50 Senate in the next Congress with Democrats still in control of the Senate because of Vice President Joe Biden, or a 51-49 Senate in the next Congress that goes either way, without either party having enough of a partisan advantage to run the chamber by themselves, that is where the Independents come into play. Especially if they don’t caucus with either party, or are not in lockstep with the political or governing agenda that their leadership wants to push.
In a divided Senate like that, that is where the Independents have the power, Assuming the Leader and Minority Leader are actually interested in governing and passing legislation in that Congress. And not simply looking for the next partisan advantage that will give them a clear majority in the next Congress. When the leadership’s in both parties aren’t interested in governing and simply looking for partisan advantage, as we’ve seen a lot in the Congress from both parties in both chambers, Independents do not mean a hell of a lot.
Whoever the next Senate Leader and Minority Leader is, they will still set the tone as far as what that Senate can pass in the next Congress. And if you are like me, you are looking for new leadership at the top in both parties without Harry Reid Mitch McConnell leading their respective caucus’. And hopefully new blood will come in and decide to work with the other party. Because whoever holds the next Senate majority, it will be paper-thin, perhaps 52-48 at best for one side. And if they decide to govern, the Independents will come into power and a lot legislation could get passed.
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