Gary Wisenbaker Blog
Gary Wisenbaker
Governing vs. Relevancy: A New Day for Congress
"Prove that they can govern":  where does this come from?

The GOP resurrects the legislative branch

Last Sunday’s talk shows resurrected the incessant nattering from political pundits of all stripes since last November that the Republicans “must show that they can govern” now that they control the U.S. House and Senate. Failure to do so is fatal, they say, to the GOP’s White House hopes in 2016 and endangers the life of their majority as well. The illuminati generally regurgitated much of what has previously been said. 

Obama, of course, bears no similar burden.

NPR’s Congressional reporter, Ailsa Chang, recently opined, “If [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] wants to see the Republicans retain the majority beyond 2016, he has to be able to prove that his party can be more than just the party of no. That means reasonable legislation that they can realistically expect the president to sign.” 
Jeremy Peters in the Washington bureau of the New York Times chimed in that Republicans are in transition: “from being the opposition party to being one that has to show it can govern.” 
CBS News political director John Dickerson suggested that those at the helm of the legislative GOP will have to show that they can govern but maybe not in a "grand" way.


The clear implication from these quotes is that to be deemed successful, the Republicans have to move legislation through the House and Senate that Obama will sign.  If Obama does not sign the bills put before him, then they have failed to show that they “can govern” and, therefore, the GOP has forfeited the right to have a Republican in the White House in 2016. 
What kind of reasoning is this?

In other words, the GOP, which won a resounding victory last November, has to go to Obama rather than Obama coming to them.  In other words, the last election did not mean much in the way of public dissatisfaction with the direction the country was headed.  In other words, what the voters really wanted was more, not less, of the eurosocialist agenda of Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

That doesn’t seem to square with the results when the sun came up Wednesday morning, November 5:  near historic GOP majorities in the House and Senate, GOP control of 31 governorships and 68 of 98 partisan legislative chambers.  The latter is a record in and of itself as it means the GOP controls six more chambers than their previous record set in 2011 and 2012.

The Republicans ran against Obama’s policies and Obama himself proudly asserted that his policies, “every single one of them”, are “on the ballot.”  And indeed they were. 

On the one hand, many in broadcast media believe “governing” means passing legislation that Obama will sign, i.e., Obama agenda legislation. The electorate has already vetoed that idea.  On the other hand, without veto proof majorities (2/3 majorities in each chamber), governing from the legislative branch simply isn’t going to happen. The GOP has no sure manner of getting legislation enacted into law and cannot be held to a conventional “governing” standard.

The pundits’ premises are wrong. And the proposition that the GOP’s survival and continued success, after having won a resounding victory, depends on a showing that “it can govern” is a non sequitur. 
It is not likely that Obama will have a Clintonesque moment. Rather than accept the election results and re-evaluate his stance, as did his Democratic predecessor, Obama’s already signaled that he turned off his Miracle-Ear when it comes to hearing what the voters said last November. He has indicated that he believes his agenda is still relevant.  Maybe Obama should have a chat with (former) U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).  

If, however, what is meant by “governing” is making the legislative branch relevant once again, then a point can be made.  This the Republicans can do, and must do.

The “world’s greatest deliberative body” can no longer act as a de facto veto mechanism for Obama.  The Senate can bring up and vote on issues that the American people said that they cared about last November.  The GOP controlled Senate can force the White House and the party of Pelosi and Reid to show their preference for the progressive-left agenda of restricting individual freedom and empowering government.

Failing to get Obama’s signature on legislation cannot be construed as a failure “to govern.”  Failing to get legislation to Obama for his signature or veto would be.  The GOP majorities and While House hopes hang on the latter rather than the former.

There’s a difference.  And on this difference the 2016 election may well be decided.
© 2015 Gary M. Wisenbaker.  All rights reserved.
Gary M. Wisenbaker is the sole copyright holder of this blog site.  By posting content to this blog, you agree to transfer copyright to the blog owner.

Gary Wisenbaker, B.A., J.D. is a native of South Georgia where he practiced law in Valdosta and Savannah for 31 years. He has served as state Chairman of the Georgia Young Republicans and Chairman of the Chatham County (Savannah) Republican Party. Gary is a past GOP nominee for State Senate, past delegate to the Republican National Convention and has consulted on numerous local Republican campaigns as well as chaired or co-chaired campaigns for President and US Senate on the county and district level. He is the principal and founder of Blackstone, LLC, a corporate communications and public relations concern as well as Wiregrass Mediation Services, LLC, a general civil litigation mediation firm. 

Gary hosts his own blog at and has recently published his first fictional work, “How Great is His Mercy: The Plea”, on 

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