Gridlock is likely to rule the federal government until at least 2023. Why 2023? Because it may not be until after the 2020 Census that the Democrats have a good chance of regaining control of the House of Representatives.
As long as Republicans rule the House, compromise with Democrats is out of the question. Look at what happened to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in Tuesday’s GOP primary. Cantor is nobody’s idea of a compromiser. But because he did the minimum necessary to keep government operating — like voting to raise the debt ceiling and to end the government shutdown — Cantor was branded a traitor to the conservative cause. Cantor’s ultimate transgression? His Tea Party opponent displayed a photo of the House majority leader standing next to President Barack Obama. Oh, the horror!
The 2010 Republican landslide gave the party control of most state governments. The GOP-controlled state governments, which reconfigured congressional district boundaries after the 2010 census, drew lines that would protect and expand GOP control of the House. The next census is in 2020. That’s two presidential elections away.
If Democrats do well that year, they may be able to control enough state governments to redraw the lines in their favor. The new districts may be in effect for the 2022 election. The House elected in 2022 will take office in 2023. Maybe then gridlock will break. That’s a long time away. And a lot of maybes.
There’s another way to break gridlock, of course. All the country has to do is elect a Republican president in 2016. But that is looking more and more difficult as the Tea Party expands its influence over the GOP.