Rickards: Rundown, What a Republican Senate means for America

A brief synopsis of what to expect after midterms.

William Rickards

William RickardsLast week’s election was especially important for college students, many of whom are first exercising their right to vote.

With the post-election roundup happening all across the country, news organizations are celebrating and mourning the Republican swing the Senate has taken this midterm. Liberal rags are on full damage control across all fronts, churning out articles that range from fear-mongering, like the Huffington Post’s “Meet the Newly Empowered Right-wing Radicals,” to crisis control, like Salon’s “There is no GOP ‘mandate.’”

Unilaterally, this election was bad for Democrats, with Republicans winning 24 of the 33 governorships in contention, adding 10 more seats to their majority in the House, and won 10 of the 13 hotly contested Senate races.

But besides the fear-mongering and doom-saying from the left, and the joyous victory sloganeering from Republicans, what can we actually expect from a right leaning Congress?


In the days of the Vietnam War there were always talks of “doves” and “hawks.” In the days of the War on Terror, the doves have been eaten. There only remains “hawks” and “hawk-like creatures.”

For the last few years we have experienced the latter category, and now President Obama should prepare to work with the former. News organizations are already predicting that Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, is being vetted as heading the Senate’s Defense Policy. McCain has long been an outspoken supporter of United States military intervention, earlier this month calling for “boots on the ground” in the conflict against ISIS in an interview with CNN, something that President Obama has been reluctant to agree to.

Obama should expect even more pressure to pursue expanded military options in the fight against ISIS that hawks like McCain and fellow Republicans will be calling for, as well as increased pressure on countries like Iran. As of last Wednesday, Obama has stated, not surprisingly, that he would seek congressional approval in the war against ISIS. These are the types of concessions that we should expect to see after a devastating midterm for a president who once stated that congressional approval for wars is not needed.


Speaking of foreign policy, while the GOP should be expected to push for a more involved hand in the world, not all is well in the Grand Old Party. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, when asked if he would support now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as senate majority leader, dodged the question, instead saying  that “was a decision for Congress to make next week.”

Cruz is known for his rancorous behavior, once reading “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor during a filibuster. Cruz is also an ardent tea party candidate and a supporter of the Christian Right, saying recently in a CNN interview that he would attempt to repeal Obamacare provisions one by one if Obama vetoes a bill from the Republican controlled Senate and House.

On the other side of the liberty-oriented candidates, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, recently told CNN that the GOP brand “sucks” and needs to be reformed to appeal to minority voters. This is sure to create a tension between a party that has become splintered between neo-cons and more libertarian minded senators.


With a Republican Senate, efforts like that of Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, to pass stricter gun legislation under the politicizing of shootings will hit a stone wall in Congress. A House and Senate controlled by Republicans almost guarantees a protection of Second Amendment rights.

Raising the minimum wage has also been a well-publicized goal of the Obama Administration. This is an issue that has galvanized the two parties, but is largely already being passed on a state-by-state basis. Democrats should expect an uphill battle over the next two years regarding the federal standard.


Like the Democrats who came before them, don’t expect to see a large amount of objection to the broadened NSA spying that is going on in the upper levels of the federal government. Phone taps, allegations of spying on reporters and hacking computers have all become par for the course in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, and despite Obama’s recent announcement that he will ask for congressional support for a war against ISIS, terror driven measures against personal privacy don’t seem to be going anywhere.

William Rickards can be reached at william.rickards@temple.edu

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