Well, this week is good news for functioning government. It looks like the U. S. House and Senate have come to a budget agreement that will avoid another government shutdown and more sequester cuts. In addition, the Senate is now approving Obama’s judicial nominees and those to head government agencies, including North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt. And the Obamacare website seems to working well enough to keep itself off the front page and out of the cable news line up.
Nobody is jumping for joy over the budget agreement but nobody ever does when government working. The grumbling from both sides that comes with compromise is a sign of healing. The continued screaming of the Tea Party and Heritage Foundation is a sign of the continued disfunction.
And filibuster reform has broken a log jam. The measure had clearly been abused and used as a tool of routine obstruction instead of being reserved for extraordinary circumstances. Regardless of Mitch McConnell’s howling and threats, people, read voters, want the government to work and abuse of the filibuster prevented that.
All of this is good news for Senator Kay Hagan and every other incumbent running for re-election. It’s just a week in the news cycle, but less news about the disfunction of government helps combat the argument that government is broken and starts to tamp down the throw-the-bums-out mentality that defines most wave elections. With 10% approval ratings, Congress may have finally gotten the message that people want action not gridlock.
But the North Carolina GOP primary voters could have a completely different take. The Tea Party and Heritage-backed folks will try to make the argument that the establishment has once again sold them out. Thom Tillis can ignore these voters and make the case that a deal is good, while not perfect, for the country and hope there are enough moderates left in the party to give him a victory, or he can try to pander to them and look like an insincere, disingenuous politician.
It’s way to early to know if this is a trend or just a blip, but fewer headlines and talking heads bemoaning the disfunction of government could mean a more status quo midterm election. In GOP primaries, though, a functioning government based on compromise could give renewed energy to the Tea Party. Or it could signal the end of their grip on the party.