The incoming GOP group of 60-plus new members of the U.S. Congress will make up the largest freshman class since World War II. They could exercise enormous clout if they work together.
On Capitol Hill, strength in numbers is essential if you hope to make changes as representatives in the U.S. House. But the question is — can the new members accomplish anything because of their campaign stance?
During this political season, many of the candidates who won took the position that they will fight the system on Capitol Hill. They also promised their voters more jobs and an improved economy. Many vowed to overhaul, or even repeal, the new health care reform law.
But here’s the reality the new members will face. Imagine working in an office of 435 employees where everyone has the same job description and none of your co-workers can fire you. To make matters more complicated, each employee reports to an off-site boss (their constituents). So these workers must achieve their goals by creating alliances to get a majority vote. Sometimes that means coming to a consensus with people who have different opinions and philosophies. That scenario describes how Congress works.
So the political parties elect leaders in the House and the Senate to move these coalitions toward their goals. In the past, Republicans leaders have done a better job than Democrats in presenting a cohesive message. But now with the new Tea Party influence, House Republican leaders face the same problems with managing factions in their ranks that Democrats have historically experienced. I have found over the years compromise is necessary to get anything accomplished, which is difficult for many members to accept.
If the next Congress, both old and new members, insist on stressing their political views more than cooperating to achieve common solutions, nothing will be accomplished. Both the Congress and the administration could face two years of deadlock. But voters demand results. We all want an improved economy, more jobs, and a better future for our families. Building consensus for the sake of progress is going to be a major challenge for the next Congress, but it is absolutely essential.