The House is Where the Action Is

Image for post
Image for post

So the Republicans managed to maintain control over the Senate even as the Democrats convincingly regained control of the House of Representatives. Democrats gained the most seats in any midterm election since 1974, the first election after President Richard Nixon resigned as the result of the Watergate scandal. Republicans hold not a single House seat in New England. The Republican Party is now a third party in California, home of both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, having fewer enrolled members than voters who claim no party affiliation.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are close cousins as the two houses of the United States Congress. In terms of their role in passing legislation they are equal in that both are necessary. If only one house passes a bill, it will not become law. They are still importantly different by design. The Constitution defines the House of Representatives first, the Senate second. Article I, Section 7 begins with this statement: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

Most importantly, of course, seats in the House of Representative get allocated by population. States with more people get more seats in the House, although every state gets at least one. Seats in the Senate, by contrast, get allocated evenly among the states — every state gets two, regardless of population. Terms of office in the House are two years. In the Senate, they are six years.

One effect of this difference, which the Founder fully intended, is that the House represents the will of the people much more directly and immediately than does the Senate. The House is supposed to respond more quickly to changes in public opinion, while the Senate is supposed to move more slowly and deliberately.

Controlling the presidency and the Senate, the Republicans still have considerable power to shape policy and do further damage to the republic, but they cannot pass bills unilaterally as they did with their unnecessary, irresponsible tax cut.

Looking forward, as an indication of where the nation is headed in terms of politics and policy, the Republicans’ losses in 2018 are a much better indicator than their victory in 2016. A lot of people were either willing to give Donald Trump a try or were not paying much attention in 2016. After two years of the horrors of Trump as president, a lot more people were paying attention in 2018 and did not like what they saw. Turnout was the highest for a midterm election in a century.

In theory, 2018 should have been a moment of triumph for the Republicans. It was the second year in which they controlled both Houses of Congress and the presidency. The Democrats lacked the power to stop any legislation the Republicans wanted to pass, as the Republicans demonstrated with their unnecessary, irresponsible tax cut. But it turns out that the Republicans have no agenda, beyond tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts. Oh, and repealing the Affordable Care Act, which they tried to do, but to their chagrin, fellow Republicans scuttled that effort.

This is only more proof that Republicans do not really want to govern. They seek high office only because they enjoy the perks, the prestige, and the opportunity to enrich themselves and their friends. Thus, Donald Trump is the epitome of a Republican politician.

More and more of the U.S. public is beginning to catch on, as the 2018 election results indicate. That is bad news for Republicans.

Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store