Implications of Democratic Control of Congress and Presidency

I have been pretty quiet about the elections in the US. This is because in addition to recently catching up with what is going on I have had a lot to consider before writing anything except for a simple article explaining a simple situation. I have also always maintained that the course a nation takes is largely predetermined by circumstances, accidents of geography, and social realities. This leaves little room for the influence of one man — in this case Barak Obama — to have much effect, and indeed reality will be imposed upon him and we will soon see his policies and views change significantly. Obama will be dealing with — and expected to be at least on par with — the likes of Putin, Merkel, Sarkozy, Hu Jintao, the Ayatollahs and a host of other highly experienced persons of power who will not be moved by charisma or any childish notions of “change” that are not strictly to their benefit and often America’s specific detriment. A similar process will unfold in the Congress. That being considered, I did not view the election campaign itself or its outcome to be of significance, as the course they must take is largely already determined.

The Democrats have been elected, proving that they have mastered the art of saying the right things in public to get elected and convincing the media to frame them in the desired way. Now it is time to deal with reality and we will soon see how masterful they are at playing the actual game of geopolitical balance while trying to appear to live up to their campaign promises. It is very easy to say radical things, make broad sweeping gestures and produce emotionally pleasing sounds about some entirely undefined and ambiguous “change” when you are in the minority of Congressional and Executive power. Once you are actually in control, however, you must obey the laws of reality or risk sinking your ship.

Reality will be imposed upon the next version of the American government in three ways which differ significantly from the general public view of how government works:

  1. The roles of the President, the Congress, the Treasury and the Judiciary (i.e. Supreme Court) vary significantly from the way the public tends to imagine them to be.
  2. Government finance and the way the economy functions are grossly misunderstood by the public.
  3. The effects of competing foreign interest is almost always not only misunderstood but greatly discounted when understood by the public.

That being said, the Democrats have a desire to be in power. They are power hungry. That is why they have formed a political party — to gain and maintain as much power as possible over the workings of the United States. That means also that they desire to have the US be powerful itself. This means they do not wish to preside over the decline and demise of the US as a global superpower, the only meaningful military power left in the world and the only national economic entity sufficiently diversified enough to weather the current financial turmoil without panic. Here it should be noted that there is absolutely no distinction between economic and military power — they are deeply related, particularly in the case of the US, and are two sides of the same coin in the view of powerful statesmen and leaders. To maintain the base of American power in the world it will be fundamentally necessary to behave in a way which is in direct contradiction to campaign promises.

The electoral votes were decisive and substantial, but the popular vote was anything but a landslide. This leaves plenty of room for a public shift in public opinion. I predict that this in combination with the impending demise of the Democratic wishful imaginings about the status of the world will have two effects: Barak Obama will find himself with a drastically reduced support base as his presidency moves forward, and the support base of the Democrats will either split entirely or shift such that they will no longer enjoy a majority confidence after a few years. [While this series focuses on geopolitical issues and foreign policy — the principal job of the Office of President — Stratfor has written an excellent article which focuses on the domestic political control issues facing Obama and how he is handling them early by selecting his political appointees.]

Fully understanding this position requires a good bit of background explanation. I am therefore going to attempt to produce a small series which will investigate some of the larger forces at work in the world and how these forces will constrain and limit the choices America has over the next several years. Geopolitical issues I see as significant to the next American government are:

  • The Defining Realities of Russia and Cold War II
  • Necessary US plays in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Iranian regional control issues
  • Iraq
  • The Lebanese equation
  • Global economy and finance
  • Georgia
  • Turkey’s re-emergence
  • The Mexican Drug War
  • Bolivian unrest
  • Brazil’s emergence
  • Venezuela-Cuba-Russia
  • Saudi Arabia, OPEC and oil politics
  • Dysfunction and demise of the EU concept
  • India’s regional role
  • Status of terrorist organizations
  • The Koreas
  • China’s potential for turmoil

Each of these topics will be the subject of an article. I will update this introduction page and link to each article as I write it. Some may morph, split, or combine as I work my way through them. All are closely related to one another. I just have to pick the places to divide each major issue into manageable chunks for myself and the reader. This will culminate in a final essay explaining what I see as the major constraining factors at work against any attempt at abrupt “change” in the American system.

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