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Editorial: Republican “wave” shouldn’t kill bipartisanship

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | NOVEMBER 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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After the anticipation of the 2012 presidential election led to a dramatic defeat, the GOP was hurt.

The Washington Post ran a piece titled “The GOP might as well be dead.” Yet, waking up on Wednesday, the Republicans must be feeling pretty good. There is no doubt whether this national party is no longer on the sidelines.

Stretching across coast to coast, voters have sent a message, and the Republicans won in a landslide.

Going into the election, the Republicans needed six seats to take back control of the Senate. They’ve conclusively won seven: North Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, and Montana. The results for Alaska and Virginia are not yet conclusive. The next session of Congress will be the first time with the Republicans in the majority in the Senate since 2006.

In addition to regaining the Senate and expanding their majority in the House, the GOP was also able to capitalize on key gubernatorial races. Bruce Rauner, the new governor of Illinois, is Republican.

That’s right, Illinois.

Examining the nearly $4 billion of advertisements this election season, it’s clear that the Republicans framed this election as largely anti-Obama. There was a fairly strong reason for this; President Obama is not popular. When he took office, the young leader had a powerful 61.8 percent job approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics. After his 2012 re-election, that figure fell to 53.8 percent. Now, it’s at 41.8 percent. It’s clear that Americans are not happy with the president’s policies.

The phenomenon caused Democrats to run from their leader in elections in an attempt to save themselves. Kentuckey Senate candidate Alison Grimes was a prime example of this: “I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal, and the EPA,” she said. Several Democrats refused to acknowledge that they voted for Obama at all.

Putting aside the partisanship, this November midterm election produced some interesting history. Joni Ernst became Iowa’s first female member of Congress as well as the first female veteran in the history of the Senate. At age 30, Elise Stefanik from New York became the youngest women elected in Congress. In the South, Tim Scott became the first black senator to win an election since the Reconstruction Era.

While the Republicans have a reason to celebrate, the election results mean the potential for heightened gridlock. Emboldened conservatives will most likely attempt to push their agenda even more forcefully. Rush Limbaugh described what he believes will be the mandate of the newly elected Republicans, “it is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrats.”

If this does pan out to be their strategy, America will have at least another two years of stalemate and perhaps even government shutdowns.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes that while the Republicans have certainly gained more leverage in Washington, they should make every effort to work with the president. Trying to force their agenda on a president who has veto power will ultimately be unproductive and harmful for the country. Bipartisanship needs to be at the center of every debate going forward. America has too many critical issues for our elected officials not to make an effort.


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