If you think a Romney presidency would be bad, imagine what a GOP Senate sweep would look like. Such a victory would be read as confirmation that the country really does want to take a sharp right turn.
It probably won’t be good news for House Speaker John Boehner, though: The GOP bigwigs who call the shots don’t really trust him, so the coreless wonder from Massachusetts would revert to an even more conservative persona to placate the base and win another term in office. As a result, pretty much anything the right wing in Congress wants, would go.
Here are just four examples:
Marriage equality. Kiss it goodbye. The GOP will mount a hardcore effort to stop marriage equality. They can start with a defense of DOMA, which the Obama administration has refused to undertake in the courts. They’ll ratchet it up from there, all the way to a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. A constitutional amendment requires approval from two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states, but even if Republicans can’t get those numbers, it’ll still be a long, bitter and expensive fight. The LGBT community would be forced to spend the next four years burning through money to protect the gains we’ve made instead of looking for ways to expand them.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The military hasn’t been destroyed by the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but don’t tell the GOP that. Remember the gay soldier booed at a debate during the Republican presidential primary? At least one leading Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, has said he would like to repeal the repeal if his party wins both Houses on Tuesday. It might be hard to restore DADT, but it’s easy enough to add all kinds of restrictions to erode the repeal’s full effect—to say nothing of holding congressional hearings to illustrate the gay menace threatening our national security. Won’t that be fun?
Funding for HIV/AIDS research and treatment. The great thing about Paul Ryan’s budget, which Republicans in the House have lined up behind, is that as vague as it is, it’s pretty easy to understand what will happen: It would give tax breaks to the wealthy, increase defense spending and shred everything else. Among the programs hit hard would be those that support people living with HIV and AIDS. The Ryan budget would result in a minimum 22% cut in funding for HIV programs, and possibly higher than that.
In addition, because Congress would be more than happy to repeal as much of the Affordable Healthcare Act as possible, people with pre-existing conditions like HIV wouldn’t be able to afford or even get private health insurance.
The continued rise of the religious right. If Republicans sweep Congress, all the right-wing nutburgers will have a direct pipeline to the seat of government. This includes Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who has made attacking gay rights his life’s work. Even more frightening is the prospect of David Barton having more political power: Barton would like to institute Scripture as the law of the land and, while he’s not likely to get everything he wants, he’d probably get plenty of GOP legislators enamored (or scared) of him. Guess who’d be a likely target for that effort?
The odds are already on the GOP to hold onto control of the House. The good news is that the GOP has nominated such weak candidates for Senate that the Dems have a good chance of keeping control and maintaining the firewall against more outrageous House proposals.
Still, polls have been wrong before and just because the odds are low for a GOP Senate, it doesn’t mean it’s zero. So don’t breathe easily until Wednesday morning. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed.