In a word: “zilch”.
It would be nice if the results of last Tuesday’s election prompted our political leaders to seek common ground, put aside their differences, and do what’s best for the future of the country. But it’s not going to happen. Why? For several reasons, including these two:
1. There are fewer moderate members of Congress now. Most of the Democrats who were swept out of office last week were moderate Democrats from conservative districts. Ideologically speaking, the “average” Democrat in the House is now much more liberal than the “average” Democrat in the last Congress. And because of the election of a number of Tea Party Republicans, the “average” Republican is now going to be much more conservative. The two parties in Congress will now be even more ideologically polarized, if such a thing were possible.
2. It’s election season. Again. But not for 2010; for 2012. Yep, the 2012 presidential campaign began last Wednesday morning. Politically speaking, Republicans have very little incentive to provide President Obama with any sort of legislative victory, as it would only aid his reelection chances in 2012. Thus, they will be even less likely to want to “compromise” than they were before last week’s election, making the prospects for “bipartisan” accomplishments on any substantive piece of legislation very, very unlikely.