Babe Ruth once said, “Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game”. However, playing the game can become complicated if people are not playing by the same rules. The main reason Democrats and Republicans cannot work together is because they are playing different games. Their methods are inherently at odds. Democrats play a long game; Republicans play a short game. When we said long game, we are talking about long term, strategic, and systemic decisions that are made based on how we want the future to be. The focus is on the distant future and not the here and now. Short term refers to short term, problem solving, and realistic decisions that are based on the here and now and near future.
One way Democrats play a long game is by taking advantage of the lack of term limits on their Congressmen. According to the Senate website, out of the top 25 longest serving senators, sixteen of them are Democrats while only nine are Republicans. This is also the case in the House of Representatives. Because Congressmen do not have term limits, they can serve as long as continue to win elections. One senator’s influence can reach decades past the four years of a presidential term. This is a key point in the Democratic Party’s strategy. They run the same candidates in the same districts to win the same seats, so the same people can write laws. The Democrat’s strategy thrives on low voter turnout. Studies show only about 60% of the population vote in presidential elections and only 40% vote in the midterms. This number is even lower in primary elections, off years, and local elections. In turn, these democratic candidates are not actively elected; they are elected by default. Republicans on the other hand, have self-imposed term limits for their committee chairs. This was put in place in 1995 while Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House. The idea is that if you cannot pass important legislation within six years, you need to step aside and let someone else have a turn. Republicans also have a history of pushing for term limits for all Congressmen, so Congress does not become stale. They want to be held accountable by their supporters and want to give new people the chance to make a difference.
Although Congress has expressed the need for judicial independence, Democrats have a history of appointing activist judges to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justices should be above partisan politics, be able to set aside their personal political beliefs, and rule based on what the law says. The Supreme Court has unique jurisdiction and power but should never be used as a work around to implement ideas that have not gone through the normal legislative process. Not only are Democrats subverting the legislative process, but the country is divided on some of these issues. This is how Democrats play the long game. Because they cannot get their agenda passed the correct way, they abuse the system. Republicans on the other hand, nominate and confirm Justices who follow the Constitution and rule based on the law, as opposed to their personal beliefs. The only litmus test that Republicans have for a Supreme Court nominee is if he or she will uphold the Constitution. They aren’t concerned with manipulating the system to push their agenda, because they know the best way to have their agenda passed is by having the support of the public.
Even though Democrats and Republicans have distinctive styles of governing and have different strategies to stay in power, the most important thing is that they govern with integrity. In the words of Grantland Rice, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”