President Obama statement on net neutrality and climate change agreement with China are two strong signals that the president is building a unified front with congressional Democrats that will be a nightmare for the new Republican majority.
Obama has sent Republicans two messages that go hand in hand together. The first message he delivered was at his post-election press conference. The president made it clear that he remains willing to work with Republicans but that the Boehner and McConnell are responsible for passing legislation. Obama put pressure on congress to get things done.
The president’s second message has unfolded over the past week. Obama has moved to the left, and taken very public positions on climate change and net neutrality. The president took these steps not only to boost the morale of his party, but to get the White House and congressional Democrats on the same page. The House and Senate Democratic caucuses will not only be smaller. They will also be more liberal. One of the consequences of losing elections in mostly red states is that the Democrats that remain in congress are much more liberal than the red staters who were defeated.
The shift to the left is one of the reasons why Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is looking to create a special Democratic leadership position for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). When all of these pieces are put together, they reveal a picture of Democratic Party that is gearing up for a fight.
Boehner and McConnell have so far shown no desire to move to the center. In fact, Republicans have expressed shock that President Obama and the Democrats aren’t about to immediately give them everything that they want. Obama and the Democrats are setting up a nightmare scenario for Boehner and McConnell. Republicans won’t have enough Senate votes to pass legislation without Democratic support. If Democrats form a united front, McConnell won’t be able to pass anything that Democrats don’t want.
Senate Republican will have a choice. They can either move to the middle and enrage their base, which is unlikely or they can be stuck with a majority that is incapable of getting anything done. Harry Reid said that he was not interested in obstructing the Republicans, but he may not have to obstruct them. If Democrats stick together, Republicans won’t be able to do anything in the Senate.
Republicans will find themselves caught between an emboldened president who is using his constitutional powers to act on his own, and Democratic Senate minority that is unified against McConnell’s agenda. The president’s actions this week are only the beginning of the Democratic strategy to keep the White House and retake the Congress in 2016.
Democrats have been revived and energized by the president’s actions, and it looks like Boehner and McConnell could have a very long two years ahead of them.