Thursday, February 11, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Control Of Congress

As it stands now, Democrats control both houses  of Congress,
but only by the narrowest of margins. In fact, they only hold
the U.S.senate by virtue of the vice president’s tie-breaking
vote in her role of presiding over the senate which has 50
members who caucus with each side. In the U.S. house, the
Democrats will lead 222 to 213 after two special elections this
year, but even now, their margin is only 5 seats.

The problem for both parties is that each is divided into
factions that make it difficult for their leaderships to maintain
unity on many critical votes. This is particularly a challenge to
the Democrats who under new President Biden have an agenda
to enact.

The first two years have been problematic for presidents of
both parties in recent years, often causing them to lose their
majorities in Congress and sideline their agendas. Thus, the
2022 miderm elections already loom prematurely, especially
in the U.S. house where GOP strategists reportedly have now
targeted 47 Democratic incumbents for defeat. There are
vulmernable Republicans, too, but so far seemingly fewer than
those who now hold the majority.

Complicating Speaker Pelosi’s leadership is the division in her
caucus between liberals and members to their left, the latter
calling for policies which are not popular with a majority of
Americans.  

Before 2022, the new census-determined congressional
reapportionment will take place, and so far, most analysts
project that the GOP will pick up a few net seats from this.

The Republicans are divided, too,, as the recent impeachment
vote by  Wyoming GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney,
illustrated. Republicans will need to work out a  post-Trump
political environment for themselves before they go back to
the voters next year.

In the U.S. senate, the advantage appears, on paper at least,
to be with the Democrats who have only 14  incumbent seats
up in 2022 while 20  Republicans seek re-election. Four of
these GOP senators have already announced their retirement,
and one or two more might also retire. Nevertheless, only 4-5
incumbent seats on each side seem vulnerable so far.

In 2009, a Draconinan passage of a then-unpopular Obamacare
program led to a disastrous  mid-term election for the
Democrats the next year. Joe Biden was vice president then
and presiding over the U.S. senate.

Of course, the 2022 mid-term election is more than a year
away,  and more senate and house retirements will be
announced, reapportionment will be decided, and the Biden
administration will have a record to put before the voters.
The economy, foreign affairs, and inevitable political
surprises will also be major factors, and historically the
first mid-term election in a presidential first term is a
very big deal.

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Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 1, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Things To Come

After a difficult time such as the one all of us have recently
lived through, I think it is good practice to look forward to
events to come, especially to those we have missed most
or were cut short in the past year.

There is much to be positive about, as well as a need for
caution and prudence, but the appearance of a number of
effective vaccines to end the pandemic is perhaps the best
reason for optimism and forward thinking.

While each of our daily lives has been changed, the world,
including our nation, continues to function. Many
pre-pandemic problems remain, and new ones have arisen,
so vigilance and restraint need to temper any celebrations,
but there is nonetheless much to look forward to.

Sports fans have the prospect of full seasons and at least a
partial resumption of in-person attendance at games  in     
the summer months.  Baseball, the traditional national
pastime, is scheduled to begin in April, and the postponed
2020 Olympics have been rescheduled to begin in Tokyo
in July. Many state fairs, renaissance festivals, and other       
summer events will likely open in August, and vacation
travel, already beginning to resume, will expand.

Those restaurants which have survived will resume full
operations, and new ones will open. Warm weather
outdoor dining will surge.

For those of us in northern climates, spring and summer
is approaching, although about two wintry months remain.
Warm, sunny weather will seem like a special blessing
this year.

In the U.S. there is a new administration in Washington,
DC, but the other party is stronger in many individual
states. The key 2022 mid-term election will soon begin in
earnest, especially after the 2020 census is finalized, and
congressional redistricting is determined.

Global politics are always with us, always changing, but
always with certain repetitions. Among the latter, it should
come as no surprise that another Italian government has
fallen and there will soon be another Israeli election. The
difference between them is that the Italians keep changing
their prime ministers (they have had more in recent years
than there are kinds of pasta!) while the Israelis keep the one
they have, but who cannot win a majority in their parliament.
Portugal just re-elected its center-right government, but
Spain recently decided to keep its socialist government.
In Russia, President Putin is facing a notable opposition
leader. South America, as always, is in flux, and the China Sea
continues to be an Asian hot spot. Only in the Middle East is
there even a hint of change as a number of Arab states have
opened diplomatic relations with Israel. Numerous national
elections will take place in 2021 throughout the world.

Most of all, perhaps, we can look forward to the reunions
with our families and friends, in-person celebrations of
holidays and every-day occasions. 

Life ahead will not be the same as life as it was, but there
will be new opportunities as well as the residual challenges.

Our book of life turns to a new chapter.

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Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.