“In the wise words of Jon Stewart, “Democrats got their a**** handed to them [in the midterm elections].” The Republican Party kept control of the House of Representatives and a majority of the governorships, and also took control of the Senate. These results did not come as a surprise to many political analysts. Statistician Nate Silver predicted five possible scenarios for the midterm elections: a “Republican landslide,” a “solid Republican win,” a “Republican squeaker,” a “Democratic squeaker,” or a “Democratic shocker.” None of these possibilities had Democrats winning big. And there is no question about the future: this midterm election will shape the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, and the presidential election of 2016.
While looking at the impact of President Obama’s last two years in the Oval Office, we must first examine the current relationship between Democrats and Republicans. Over the past six years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act fifty times. The Republican Party, led by Speaker of the House John Boehner, is threatening to sue President Obama for “circumvent[ing] the Congress through executive action, creating his own laws and excusing himself from executing statutes he is sworn to enforce.” There are few things the Republicans and President Obama have agreed on over the years, and now, with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, prospects are not looking good for the two sides to work together.
But the Republican Party and President Obama have agreed that things will be different over the next two years. President Obama said, “We can surely find ways to work together. It’s time for us to take care of business,” which leader of the Senate, Republican Mitch McConnell, replied, “The Senate in the last few years basically [hasn’t done] anything. We’re going to go back to work and actually pass legislation.” Of course, there is no way to know how the two sides will interact.
The government works together in what is called a “social contract.” This comes from the thinking of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Hobbes believed that all people must seek peace and keep the covenants they have made. To make sure these goals are carried out, he believed that an absolute ruler is necessary because it is the only thing powerful enough to control all citizens. Locke regarded freedom, equality, and self-preservation necessary for all people. He also said that contracts must be between the government and the people, meaning that there is an elected, impartial judge. Rousseau wholeheartedly believed that you should not follow your self interests. Rather, he preached that everyone should work together for the mutual good of all. These three men had different ideas of governments, but all are relevant in today’s society.
To learn and connect the three philosophers, we acted out their ideologies in class. There were negotiations, rewards, and punishments. The three types of governments met to consult each other, with the negotiations and compromises falling apart multiple times. But in the end, the three governments reached agreement and benefitted everyone. So, if three completely different forms of governments and ideologies can work together, why can’t our two political parties?
If the Democrats and Republicans cannot work together over the next two years, American citizens will become
discouraged. The past six years have been frustrating because a majority of politicians put their party’s interests before the good of the American people. In the future, the two parties must put their heads together to find solutions that will benefit all people.
Of course, it was only a game in Political Theory, compared to the United States government, but if three completely different types of governments can work together, I believe that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground. Let’s put self interests aside and focus energies to fix immigration, climate change, the economy, healthcare, the military, women’s rights, racial inequality, gun rights, and much more. After all, the list of problems is almost limitless.