What if Obama plays hardball with the Republican controlled house and forces them to either brutally punish their constituents with tax raises AND if he forces them to make it a federal law that gerrymandering of districts can no longer produce bizarre shapes and configurations to protect politicians-- that voting districts have to be as compact as possible?
Expect John Boehner to operate with business as usual, sans the handful of seats the Democrats picked up, in spite of the gerrymandering that had been done to make it harder for Democrats to win.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, in spite of an extraordinary repudiation of his GOP brand, will almost surely double down, if that's even possible, on filibusters.
Pundits are saying that Obama will bend and compromise to work with Boehner and McConnell. But I am wondering. What if he doesn't? What if Obama has Pelosi and Reid proffer legislation that is populist, that reflects what voters really want-- legislation that Boehner and McConnell and their billionaire backers will choke on?
What if Obama makes it clear that he will sign a bill that continues the tax break for the middle class, for people making under $250,000, but that he'll veto any legislation that continues breaks for the wealthy.
Every tea-bagger will have to live with the label of having cost most of their constituents more taxes because of pandering to millionaires.
What if Obama goes even further and ties a tax break to legislation that makes it a federal law that makes it illegal to create bizarre gerrymandered geographic configurations and requires early voting or dramatically reduced numbers of people per voting machine for a polling place?
Here's a map of congressional district 13 in PA, after the latest gerrymandering, considered by some to be among the worst.
Here's the link
to see other districts in PA that are equally ridiculous.
Here's another one-- PA District 11-- over 170 miles from NE to SW edges:
This kind of gerrymandering disenfranchises voters and protects the status quo. it would be easy to make a rule that no distance between two points in a district be more than 20% or 10% more than any other distance, and that no peninsulas or holes would be allowed in the map of any district. I'm sure there are well laid out approaches to eliminating these kinds of abuses.
Obama has a big advantage now. The Republicans holding the house already have a horrible reputation. If they play hardball on tax breaks for the middle class, they will lose the next election-- big-time, and it will carry over to the senate so the Dems again control house, senate and White House.
It could mean two years of gridlock-- gridlock caused and continued and perpetrated by the Republicans. If congress goes through another two years as a do-nothing organization the people will vote the do-nothings out. Back in 2010, the Republicans gained 60 seats. For the Democrats to take back the house, the'll only need to win 19 seats. If the senate goes the same way in 2014 then it's possible the Democrats could actually pull full control of the house and senate.
Of course, we're talking primarily about corporatists. But still, it's an interesting question. Should Obama hold out for populist legislation that protects the people who voted for him? Or should he betray them, and show he is making deals?
Experience shows he won't wait, won't protect the constituents who elected him, won't help the Democrats win in 2014. I realize it would take discipline and toughness. It's a long shot. But I'm pretty sure if he took that route we'd end up with a whole new situation-- maybe a new nation. It takes guts and risk taking to make a difference.