It's that time of year again, so gather 'round, kiddies, for our spine-tingling and bone-chilling tales of political horror!
This Hallowe'en, we've got not only two frightful nightmares to recount, but actually three, so that absolutely nobody will feel left out. Yes, horrific futures await not only for Democrats and Republicans, but one at the end for everybody to run from, shrieking in terror all the while!
As always, our spooky stories are accompanied by hand-carved Jack-o-lanterns (so that I can write off "pumpkin purchase" on my taxes). That first one's supposed to be a baseball mitt (get it... Mitt?), but admittedly wasn't my best effort. The second one's supposed to be red, too. The third one came out OK, I thought... but I digress.
To get back into the frightful spirit, let's turn off the lights, and everyone make a circle and turn on your flashlights and point them at your chins (for the proper spooky atmosphere), and we'll begin with our skeleton-rattling, chain-dragging tales of fearful futures...
The unemployment number is released on Friday, and America is shocked to see it rise to 8.4 percent. As a result, a late-breaking wave of voters all swing to Mitt Romney, and he comfortably wins election next Tuesday.
Republicans not only retain their control over the House, they also pick up two Senate seats, to put their number at 49. Democrats are confident that they've dodged a bullet, until they notice that Angus King has won in Maine as an Independent, and has still not told anyone who he's going to be caucusing with. King, after being offered the chairmanship of the Senate Committee On Lobster Fishing, throws his support behind the Republican Party. The tie vote is broken by incoming Vice President Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader.
Mitt Romney is sworn in, and attempts to govern as the moderate politician he truly is, but he is soon thwarted by his own party. Because Mitt refuses to stand up to the Tea Party Republicans, the most extreme members of the House wind up essentially running the country, dictating policy to the White House.
The House passes ever-more-extreme bills, and while Democrats initially make a show of resistance in the Senate, thirteen of them form their own bloc and start voting with Republicans on just about every measure, removing the threat of filibusters.
Obamacare is overturned immediately, and replaced with nothing. Taxes are slashed to one percent for anyone making over a million dollars, under the slogan, "You want to call us the 'one percent'? Fine, then that's what we'll pay!"
Taxes are not initially raised on the middle class, fulfilling a campaign pledge, but then Romney and Ryan have to actually admit that their math simply doesn't add up. Republicans flood the airwaves with a propaganda campaign which convinces America that massive deficits and debts are actually good for the economy and borrowing money from China is a super-secret method of bringing that country to its knees. Deficits soar to three trillion dollars per year as a result.
President Romney also shows little backbone to standing up to the neo-conservatives on foreign policy, and America immediately bombs Iran. Iran retaliates and shuts down shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, driving world oil prices to $300 a barrel. Gas prices of $15 at the pump shock Americans, but by this point we've already got boots on the ground so there is little anyone can do. Mitt decides this isn't sufficient, and we invade Benghazi just for the heck of it.
John Woo is named Attorney General, and delivers his legal opinion to the White House that the Constitution simply doesn't say how many justices should be on the Supreme Court, so it'd be fine to just go ahead and appoint a few more. Romney appoints four new justices, each one of whom signs an oath stating that the Bible is a higher legal authority than any law passed by man. The thirteen Democrats in the Senate vote to confirm all four, and suddenly the balance on the court is 9-4 against liberals.
A massive wave of Democratic immigration flows over the border to Canada, fleeing the ruins of the United States of America.
After the unemployment number is revealed to be 7.1 percent this Friday, President Obama sails to re-election next Tuesday. Mitt Romney is chagrined to only receive 47 percent of the popular vote (which somehow seems fitting).
The Tea Party influence on the Republican Party costs them several seats in the Senate, where anti-abortion extremists lose races that a generic Republican really should have won quite easily. As a result, Democrats retain control of the Senate.
The one bright spot for Republicans from the election is maintaining their majority in the House of Representatives, by a slimmer margin.
But the real horrorshow for the base of the Republican Party comes after everyone is sworn in next year. The adults in the Republican Party finally say they've had enough, and stage a massive break with the Tea Party insurgents.
Olympia Snowe becomes a spokeswoman for the movement, rather than enjoying her retirement. "We've lost too many Senate seats we should easily have snagged, and we're fed up with nominating 'base' candidates that have no prayer of winning a general election," she announces, and calls for all House and Senate GOP members to join the "Snowe Republicans" in rejecting always-say-no obstructionism. "Also, we feel that we can accomplish more of the Republican agenda by working with President Obama and the Democratic Senate than by just refusing to do anything for the next two years."
Fox News shockingly reports, the next day, that 47 Republican House members and 13 Republican senators eagerly sign up with the movement. This new Republican caucus is instantly labeled the "Red Dogs," continuing the spectral shift from Democratic "Yellow" and "Blue" dogs of years past.
The Red Dog Republicans stage a sitdown meeting with Harry Reid and President Obama, and they negotiate a budget both sides can live with. Taxes are raised on the ultra-wealthy, and loopholes are closed for anyone making over a million bucks a year. Social Security is saved by abolishing the cap on incomes while simultaneously lowering the rate everyone pays -- which assures over 75 years of solvency for the program. Federal spending is cut, but judiciously rather than with a meat axe. With the help of Democrats, the budget agreement sails through both the Senate and House, while Tea Party Republicans seethe on the sidelines.
Obamacare is allowed to be fully implemented and funded, and it not only works well, but people realize that the Republicans have just been trying to frighten them with horror stories for years about ghosts which do not, in fact, exist. Republicans kick themselves for the labeling job they've always thought was brilliant, as generation after generation of Americans remembers who started such a wonderful program every time they call it "Obamacare."
Due to the budget agreement and overall stability in the country, the American economy starts booming once again. Tax revenues pour in to the federal government in the new boom time, and Obama balances the budget before he leaves office. Red Dog Republicans ride the wave of good feelings to all but wipe out the Tea Partiers in their midst in the 2014 midterms, and the Red Dogs win the struggle for control of their party, ushering in a new era of cooperation in Washington.
The election is extremely close, and America doesn't find out who won until the final votes are counted in Ohio on November 17. In a surprise twist, even though Obama wins the popular vote nationwide, each candidate only gets 269 votes -- resulting in an Electoral College tie. The election is thrown into the houses of Congress.
The incoming Congress (the one that will be voting) is split, as Republicans retain the House, and Democrats barely hold onto the Senate. The House votes for Mitt Romney for president, but in an even bigger twist, the Senate votes Joe Biden back into office as vice president. America has its first split government since Andrew Jackson's era, as the Romney/Biden administration enters office.
Both House Republicans and Senate Democrats dig in their heels. Both chambers begin passing bills that are more and more party ideology rather than actual laws anyone wants to see enacted. Mitt Romney attempts to govern with zero mandate, but the Tea Partiers in the House soon stop even returning his calls. Romney flounders around, and eventually tries to cut deals with Senate Democrats, who also turn him down.
Absolutely nothing gets done in Washington for the next two years.
America faces fiscal cliffs on a monthly basis, as the machinery of government grinds to an absolute halt. Every credit rating agency in the world downgrades America's debt to junk bond status. As a result, interest payments skyrocket and America enters not just another recession but a true economic depression, dragging the rest of the world's economy right along with it.
The only economic bright spot in the business world are gun and ammunition manufacturers, as a scared and angry America goes into a buying spree to arm itself for the coming breakdown of all society. Bands of marauders begin roaming America's streets at will.
Mitt Romney declares a national emergency, and gives himself new emergency powers. He declares that America is beyond redemption, and that he's got no choice but to break the country up and sell off its assets to the highest bidder. Strangely, Romney is the only person who actually makes money off these deals, pocketing billions of dollars for, as he puts it, "management fees." National Parks are all renamed, in Chinese.
Mitt leaves office after four years, and retires to the Cayman Islands.
Have a happy Hallowe'en everyone!
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant