Now that President Donald Trump is officially sworn in and can begin his presidential duties, the American people will experience something unseen for nearly 10 years: conservative governance at nearly every level.
For the first time since the Bush administration, the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, the Office of the President of the United States and, soon it seems the U.S. Supreme Court, will all be Republican-held.
I should preface any negativity in paragraphs to come by saying that for many around the country, there is hope for this new wave of conservatives in office might bring to the table.
The possibility of more, better-paying jobs is very real and the safety and security so many Americans feel they currently don’t have could be within their grasp with just a few executive orders and some (likely illegal) legislation.
But nobody really knows what to expect.
We can try and guess what the next two years will bring, but the fact is, especially under a wild card like Trump, we just don’t know.
We can, however, try to make some assumptions by taking a look at recent, smaller-scale Republican control in places that tend to be a political battleground.
Frankly, the results will likely not be all too good for those banking on major positive change.
Wisconsin is the perfect example.
After the 2010 election, Republicans gradually began to take control of Wisconsin.
In the years since, Wisconsin has been a mess.
Gov. Scott Walker enacted Act 10, leaving thousands of Wisconsinites with a lower quality of life and undermining generations of proud Wisconsin unions and quality education in our state.
Republicans cut funding to education at every level. Though we haven’t seen the full repercussions of cuts to the University of Wisconsin System, we have seen UW drop in recent rankings.
Infrastructure has gone to the wayside, as Republicans in the state refuse to address how they plan to update roads in the state, or even how they’ll pay for them.
The economy in the state has been sluggish at best and flat out stagnant at worst with previously stalwart Wisconsin companies like Oscar Meyer leaving the state.
None of these issues even begin to address the shady and bizarre things Walker and state Republicans continue to do to hide their agenda and remain in power. The demise of the Government Accountability Board and obvious gerrymandering leave Wisconsinites almost unable to do anything about the state of our state.
Wisconsin is a mess and frankly, complete Republican control is to blame.
While I personally would rather have the Democratic Party in power to uphold things like equal rights, environmentalism and a government that works for the people rather than for corporations and banks, I don’t necessarily think having the Democrats in control of everything is all that great for American democracy either.
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I admit I was pleased after the 2008 election when Democrats took control of the White House, the House and the Senate, but the results weren’t as good as many Democrats might have hoped.
Certainly, some part of that has to do with Republican obstructionism at nearly every turn, but Democrats still didn’t make nearly as much progress as they said they would.
Truth be told, I am a firm believer the American government functions at its highest capacity when Republicans and Democrats hold a relatively even split within the branches of government. If a Republican is in the White House, it is good to have at least part of the legislative branch with a Democratic majority.
The simple fact is, historically speaking, the American government is at its most effective and efficient when both parties work together.
Obviously, the last two decades tell a different story, but understanding both sides’ unwillingness to work together is an irritated rant for another week.
What’s really disturbing is the potential damage that could come about due to Republican control at the federal level for the next two years.
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While there is a real likelihood the American people could see drastic changes which negatively impact millions of people’s quality of life similar to Wisconsin, the truth of the matter is it could potentially be much, much worse.
Trump could do all Walker has and more, with the full capabilities of the U.S. economy and military behind him.
That’s something we all need to prepare for.
Connor Touhey ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in political science, history and journalism.