With the Georgia Senate race run-offs now officially decided with Democrats, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, winning, the Democrats potentially have unchecked political power in the United States Government. They have the President and Vice-President, the majority in the House of Representatives, and a tie in the Senate with the Vice-President as tie-breaker. But do they really have unchecked power? In a word, “no”. But why would I say “no” when US politics is as divided as it is today?
Let’s start with the House, where the Democrats have 222 seats and need 218 for a majority. The Republicans have 211 at the time of this writing, with 2 vacant, but the point is the Democrats can only lose 5 of their own votes before not being able to get a majority. That’s about 2% of Democrat Representatives, or not many. US politics may be polarized, but not so polarized that it can’t find 5 potential Democrat dissenters. This is especially true considering many Democrat House members were elected in swing states or traditionally Republican states or areas, that should they support anything too far to the left, they might well not get elected again. If you know politicians, that is about the last thing they want to happen except for those retiring after their current term, and there won’t be many of those.
Then comes the Senate that’s an even more precarious balance for the Democrats to try to maintain support. That’s because of the exact 50-50 seats tie, where the likelihood of at least one reasonable person among the Democrats not supporting something “crazy” is completely plausible. Now, some of you Republicans might find that hard to believe, but remember, like with House Representatives, there are many Democratic Senators from either swing states, or traditionally Republican states. They’re not going to be too far left-leaning if they think they’ll get re-elected again, which they will want as badly, in most cases, as their similarly elected House of Representative members. And just one of them is all it will take to deny the Democrats’ unchecked political power from Presidency to House to Senate. That’s also 2% of Democrat Senators, and not many, literally, in being singular. Vice-President Harris, when this Senate will be operational, will only have the tie-breaking vote if there were a tie, not if it were 51-49 because of one dissenter.
Finally, for the controversial issues where the issue sides may not fit well to political sides, the Democrats would have to convince at least as many Republicans as Democrat dissenters to their stance. With the razor thin margin in the House, and only a last resort tie-breaker vote in the Senate, given the precarious election of many Democrats outside of Democrat strongholds, that’s not going to be easy to do. I’m sure the Democrats are under no illusion about this, to be proposing policy carefully to ensure support among all of their elected members lest they want to be embarrassed frequently. So I would not worry the least about the potential of the Democrats to have unchecked power despite having control of all political spaces in American politics. Not even if I were a staunch Republican. However, all that said, this most minimal of possibility of unchecked power might be just what Joe Biden and the Democrats need to be at least a bit efficient at reversing all the damage Trump has done in the past 4 years. A little clear sailing to reverse the most ridiculous of Trump’s policies would be nice, with a real debate on anything less than the rather obvious.