You would think these would be the days of wine and roses for the Republican Party.
After all, they are to be in complete control of both the state and federal governments now, and they should feel giddy as a schoolgirl being tossed the keys to Dad’s Impala for the first time, right?
The more I think about it, though, the more I imagine that the weight of the task ahead of them, in Des Moines and Washington, must weight heavy.
With great power, they say, comes great responsibility.
At school board meetings and elsewhere around the area, I’m hearing they same thing said: “Now they’ve got no one else to blame.”
If the GOP successfully delivers on its promises, it gets the credit. But if it doesn’t, all of the blame. That’s new. And it could be a heavy cross to carry.
Think of the child who has just broken the neighbor’s antique Tiffany lamp, his mother dragging him home by the hand hissing, “Didn’t I tell you not to touch anything?”
In fact, I don’t hear a lot of the gleeful end-zone spiking one might expect, although our Congressman Steve King does term it “the opportunity of a lifetime” to push through his long-blocked agenda.
It’s going to be interesting. With the Republicans owning all the blocks in the toy box, there will be temptation, state level or the national, to ram through a revolution, to cross the line from bold to careless.
After all, there’s no one left to apply a brake - except themselves.
Will they remember daily that they are there to serve the best interests of the people - all of the people - and not the party?
Voters trusted them to work for right and truth, not to push personal agendas.
At the state level, we have confidence in our local Rep. Worthan and Senator Segabart to act wisely amid this totally changed landscape. They are fine people.
Will the quiet apprentice Kim Reynolds have the nerve to challenge her own party for the greater good, if the need arises?
In the past, a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House often thwarted each other. There is an opportunity now - and a risk - for more change to be passed into law more quickly.
While Democrats are in the minority, we hope they have the opportunity to be heard. Voters send all their elected leaders to Des Moines to contribute, not just those of the majority party of the moment.
The first test may come in school aid. Typically, Democrats propose a very generous rate, Republicans a very conservative one, with everyone knowing that after all the smoke and bluster, a fairly appropriate level in between is the uneasy compromise. That may be over.
With the state revenue already projected at a $100 million shortfall, this can’t be expected to be a bonanza year for funding anything, but schools and colleges have to remain top priority (along with public safety). Education is the best hope for the future we have, and on that, both sides of the aisle should be able to agree.
In Washington, we will see at least two years of unified GOP rule - both houses of Congress and the White House - for the first time since 2007. The movement of the moment seems to be dismantling President Obama’s legacy - the Affordable Care Act, climate change commitments, the Iran nuclear weapons pact, the face of the Supreme Court.
That may well be what is good for the party. But destruction alone isn’t a policy. The party’s real challenge will be to create and implement better ideas than the imperfect versions we had.
We will need immigration reform that is deeper and more thoughtful than simply a giant trillion-dollar wall, for example.
The dynamic is fascinating. Republicans, a party not long ago seemingly torn in half with the uber-conservative Tea Party movement threatening insurrection against the more moderate base, found its footing at teh 11th hour, and now holds all the chips in states like Iowa, and in D.C. Voters wanted change, A lot of Republicans represented it. But winning an election isn’t the job, it’s the prelude to the real work.
A badly divided nation needs true leadership to heal.
If Republicans wish to retain their advantage, efforts had best be rationally thought out and executed for the good. Power can be wielded wisely, or foolishly.
In Iowa like in Washington, both chambers of our lawmaking bodies and the executive branch will now be controlled by a single party.
This can be dangerous territory - without any checks and balances - regardless of which party is in charge. The scenario lacks that counterbalance to question policy or at least effectively debate options. And, will the centrists of the party have the will to rein in their own president if he goes rogue? - the opposition won’t have the traction to.
Every middle school social studies student understands the dynamic of this playing field.
At least in modern history, Democrats are the party of the social programs, Republicans the party of careful fiscal policy. At its best, the system forces the uncomfortable bedfellows to work in tandem, in theory answering people’s needs without breaking the bank.
When one party is unchecked, there is always the risk of its extremist fringe bullying its sounder minds into bad decisions. Not saying lunacy will happen, but Republicans will have to guard themselves against it.
Many liberal pundits seem to be in full panic mode even before an inauguration. It’s almost as if they have given up that anything positive could happen - or even that they long for failure. And that’s not helping.
It is worth remembering that every Republican is not Donald Trump. The party’s leaders and voters are located all along the spectrum of political beliefs. Independents and Democrats should be seeking ways to work with the system we are in, not sabotage it with our society paying the cost. We’ve had enough of that through these two years of bitter campaigns.
Even Congressman King sounds a bit conciliatory, speaking of Demos this week - “I want to deal with them as respectable human beings and many of them friends.”
The Republican party is living the dream now. There’s nothing in its way. It deserves its opportunity to prove worthy of the faith the electorate has placed in it.
But amid the celebrating, the shift in power should perhaps come with a moment of somber reflection. There is much to be done, and if it isn’t, change can as easily swing in the other direction. Every person elected, at every level, should remember that.