US Capitol (by flickr user Phil Roeder,

Is the GOP capable of leading from Congress?

It is a valid question and one that people may seriously consider should the Republican Party do what is expected and take the US Senate with a decisive victory in November.

The answer to whether or not they will be able to lead is a complex one for a lot of reasons.

First, there really is no major leader for the Republicans to get behind.  Mitch McConnell is not the kind of guy that leads major charges.  John Boehner is not the kind of guy that can lead something larger and already seems to have trouble leading the house.  The ones that could conceivably take charge don’t seem to want the job and have their sights set higher.  This is not a recipe for good governing.

Second, there will be no chance for major policy initiatives because, while the GOP would have control of Congress, they would not have the 60 votes in the Senate needed to overcome the filibuster.  Also, no one there would make Democrats actually do the filibuster a la “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Third, you have a President with no election to win and nothing to lose in charge of the White House for two more years after that.  He has not shown a penchant for working across the aisle and it has been to his detriment, but also to the detriment of Congress.  He has no reason to want to do that in the last two years in office.  I’m sure he would rather continue to peddle the Republicans as the party that likes to do nothing.  Even if they have been more active in the House, they do not appear that way to the public.

Fourth, as always, the GOP has no idea how to market itself.  It has no way to defend itself in public because conservatives tend to be pretty independent minded.  They have not done a good job of selling what they are doing to people for years.  They have instead been used to being the opposition.  Sometimes that works, but lately, it only has gotten them the scorn of the American people, who have also served up that same level of scorn for the other party pretty equally.

All of this is based on the GOP taking the Senate.  That is still up in the air.  Still, the chances for better government under Republicans seems slim unless they do what they need to do, which is take the lead and work on ways to get things done in Washington.  It hasn’t happened with the other party, so that may be their only winning point thus far, if they manage to get both sides of Congress.  It is a small thing, but it might just be enough for a start, if they are willing to try.

(accompanying picture by flickr user Phil Roeder, license here)

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