Editor’s note: The following article is a follow-up from Mark Becker after the Georgia election results. Due to its more opinion-based nature and short length, we decided to mark it as a commentary.
A crucial point to add following the truly shocking development of Democrats flipping both Senate seats in Georgia, which means the Senate is now evenly divided 50-50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris representing the tiebreaking vote on any partisan issues:
While control of both houses in Congress and the Presidency makes it easier for Biden and the Democratic party to pass highly partisan agenda items, it does not necessarily mean that is more likely for several reasons.
First, the 2022 midterms already loom as both a crucial battle between parties to break or retain control of each house as well as a report card for how the populace sees the direction of politics in a now-realistically post-Trump sphere. Prior to the Capitol riot and legally proven baseless claims of election fraud and tampering, it appeared that Trump’s dominant influence at the head of the GOP would continue to reign after Biden was sworn in. Following his second impeachment, any chance of that is miniscule, regardless of the trial’s result. A fractured Republican party will be contending with trying to regain any power while simultaneously piecing back together its membership, while Democrats will be optimistic for their first chance to pass unopposed legislation in a decade, at the outset of Obama’s first term. Trump too benefitted from that full control beginning his term as well, which resulted in a number of drastic tax revisions, social agenda policies and more – all of which will be the most likely target of Democratic partisan focus to resolve first, rather than create sweeping new policy.
Second, a two-prong issue faces the Democrats with this newly realized power: utilizing it responsibly, and the prospect of having to cater to individual Democratic demands to exercise that power fully. Full control does not mean what many would think – a severe shift to the far left – but instead elevates centrists on both sides of the aisle whose votes will be more key than ever on practically all pieces of legislation. Fortunately for the country as a whole, this is exactly what Biden excels at. He has built his entire political reputation around a keen ability and willingness to negotiate toward everyone’s mutual benefit, prioritizing his goals first but being realistic in making certain concessions to achieve those ends. Attempting to switch postures with the supposed backing of Congress to force legislation through is neither his historic style, nor necessarily prudent as it would only serve to embolden Republicans in their quest to retake either body in 2022 or, worse, shift negotiating power back into McConnell’s hands when he would need only to win a single opposing vote from any Democrat to block legislative action.
With many state-level elections also concluding this past Tuesday, the redistricting picture is far clearer across the nation and while Republicans have a numerical edge and more influence in states with larger congressional appointments, Democrats won in a number of key areas including several where they had little influence for decades prior. This, as well as a methodical examination of individual Senators’ voting records and public stances, will grant a much more precise picture of specific legislation and policy likely to be approached in the notorious “first 100 days,” when a President is considered at the peak of his power.