Democrats and progressives are steeling themselves for waking up a week from today and seeing the Senate in Republican hands and Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. The theme is “Hey, look on the bright side: the Republicans won’t be able to do anything and they’ll get killed in 2016.”
There are multiple reasons for this, but they all have their roots in the fundamental dilemma that has plagued the GOP throughout Barack Obama’s presidency: the contradictory demands of appealing to a broad electorate and appeasing an eternally angry and suspicious base. The tension this creates will play out in new ways if and when Republicans take over the Senate.
That leaves Republicans with the following dynamic: They pass bills meant to mollify their supporters, the bills are filibustered by Democrats and the bills die. Other than stopping Obama administration appointments (something significant, particularly when it comes to judges, but one that gets a limited amount of attention), Senate Republicans will have little to show their base.
The problem with that theory is that the Republicans don’t really care if they pass any bills or accomplish anything. They haven’t done any of that in the last eight years and they keep getting re-elected. Why mess with a good plan?