I mentioned last week that, had America defaulted after the debt ceiling crisis, that the president, vice president, and everyone currently in Congress should be tossed out as soon as their term expires, and that none of them should be voted into another office. Now that presents an interesting scenario.
For starters, Michele Bachmann would not be able to become president, assuming the national mood took her out during the primaries. President Obama and Vice President Biden would no doubt be renominated, so the next president would be a Republican. Just not one holding a House or Senate seat. The good news, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, is that the eventual 45th President would likely be a governor. With the exception of Bush 43, governors and vice-presidents since World War I have tended to make better presidents than legislators. Exceptions, of course, would be Truman and Kennedy. And Carter’s post-presidency is more admired than his presidency. It’s not an absolute rule, but a scenario that increases the odds of a successful presidency.
The House, which has only two-year terms, would have to start completely over from scratch. Who would be the majority leader? The minority leader? The Speaker? These are all posts determined in large part by seniority. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi could not have held the Speaker’s chair a decade ago. But in a House of Representatives where everyone is a freshman, or at least returning after time away from Capitol Hill, no one would have seniority.
Also, the House would most definitely become Democratic. Good for the new president? Depends on how pragmatic he is. Republican presidents tend to do better with Democratic Houses than Democratic presidents do with Republican Houses. Of course, if everyone’s a freshman, the rules for each party might change. We might even see new parties spring up, since third parties would smell blood and move in for the kill.
But the national mood would have to stay against the incumbents for at least four years. Only 33 senators are up for reelection. The other 67 would keep their jobs until 2014 or 2016. With a nation angry enough to turn out the incumbents, those 67 would have 2-4 years to ingratiate themselves. Plus several of them would move up the food chain into leadership positions.
Is this scenario feasible? Not really. It’s easy to turn out a president. Bush 41 was the last to be kicked out of office come election time. There’s a chance it could happen to Obama. But for some reason, voters think that everyone else’s Congressman or Senator sucks, but theirs is doing a good job. And for many, party loyalty factors more strongly than anything else in the voting booth. For instance, John Boehner will be back next term. The Republican Party in Butler County is not going to give up having the Speakership located in its district without a fight, and most people in Boehner’s district would sooner vote for Jeffrey Dahmer than vote for a Democrat. This pattern repeats itself all over the US across all party lines.
But what would happen if we did replace all of them?
Might be chaos at first. But how many pre-conceived Beltway notions would melt away in the process?