Here's a serious question that I would love to see some of the smart political observers take on: How would Republicans govern if they get the keys to the country back in January 2013?
It's certainly a likely enough possibility. I think if I had to place a wager I'd pick Obama to win re-election, but it's surely a toss-up. The Senate is probably more likely than not to move to Republican control, and odds are against Democrats retaking the House.
It hasn't been very long since the GOP held all three -- 2006 -- but it certainly seems like an entirely different party in some ways.
That's partly because the more moderate Republicans in Washington got swept out in the '06 and '08 elections, and more extreme true believers washed in last year.
It's also because, in the process of opposing the Democratic President (and Democrats in the House & Senate majorities), Republican have been obliged to firmly oppose even some pretty moderate, or non-ideological policy approaches and goals. They have also taken some extemely hard lines during negotiations, some of which reflected the desire to not allow Obama to do anything, and some of which reflected actual ideology favoring, for example, defaulting on national debts.
Presumably, a President Romney won't want a Republican-led Congress behaving anything like they have been. And on a lot of fronts, they probably won't. It's amazing how easily elected officials can change their philosophy and behavior when they gain or lose power.
But I'm not so sure the basic current tension goes away: Speaker Boehner simply can't wrangle his extremist caucus to vote for bills that have a legitimate chance of getting 60 votes in the Senate. (Even if you're starting with 52 Republicans instead of 48.)
So, would the new Republican President be able to get his agenda passed, or will the House insist on adding hugely unpopular provisions, as they have recently? Would Republican leaders and the new President work with moderate Democrats to pass bills, leaving the hard-core conservatives out? Would House Republicans pass all the crazy stuff they've been able to safely vote for, knowing Harry Reid would never let them on the floor -- and if so, what would McConnell do?
And so on. I have no answers here, but I'd like to see what others think.