Political gridlock likely to ensue

Matt Barney, sports writer

Voters across the country went to the polls on Nov. 4 to cast their ballots in overwhelming support of Republican candidates, as many predicted would be the case. With congressional approval ratings languishing at an all-time low of 14 percent, the “do-nothing” Congress will soon be comprised of an even greater obstructionist element.

With Republicans now controlling both the Senate and the House, it’s only a matter of time before they will attempt to enact their agenda. One can quickly rattle off legislative goals soon to be championed. The attempted repeal of Obamacare for the 55th time, the doling out of tax breaks to millionaires, the attempted elimination of the minimum wage, votes for continued income inequality, increased student loan debt and deregulation of everything, just to name a few—the only problem being that pesky little thing known as the executive branch.

Optimists point to recent statements from new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing a willingness to work with the president as a sign of progress; however, he will be hard pressed to deliver based on his party’s recent sprint to the right on just about every position.

Americans are tired of their elected representatives not being able to work together. Sadly, that is what we can expect for the next two years. Our country has a number of crucial issues that will now be pushed to the back burner.

Tea Party darling Senator Ted Cruz has already come out in opposition of the president’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch. Cruz called for a delay in the vote until after the new Congress is convened in January, echoing sentiments from McConnell.

The Republican takeover of the Senate also means that adamant climate-change denier Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma will likely takeover as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, giving him direct oversight of the EPA, Obama’s best tool to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Inhofe has called climate change “the greatest hoax” and a “mass delusion.” In this day and age, Americans and, quite frankly, any person living on the planet can ill afford to have a man in such a vital position if he refuses to act on climate change, let alone acknowledge its existence.

Perhaps the most essential and far-reaching issue, immigration reform, will most certainly be off the table until 2016, unless the president can find a way to act on his own, something House Speaker John Boehner said would “poison the well” of relations with Congress, warning the president not to take such actions because “when you play with matches, then you take the risk of burning yourself.”

Not to be outdone with metaphors, McConnell cautioned that any executive action on the issue would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.” If McConnell and the Republicans are bulls, the president needs to be the matador on this crucial issue.

Unfortunately, this is our new normal.