As we come to the final days of this overly long campaign, it would be well to remind ourselves of some basic political reality in order to temper the many candidate promises that have filled our days. And to also temper some of the naïve silliness that has been expressed in too many letters to the editor. However much the current administration has tried to make it not so, there is relatively little the president can do to change policy initiatives into law. Congress, however weakened these last eight years, still has to act. McCain can promise retention of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but he can’t do it without congressional approval. Obama can promise tax cuts for the middle class, but he can’t produce them without congressional approval. Congress only acts when it can generate a sizeable majority vote on an issue, and that always means negotiation and compromise with a final product quite a bit different than the original proposal. Democrats control the current congress in name only. With a bare majority they get to claim the leadership positions but the Republicans, with a bare minority, are able to block anything but the most innocuous legislation. Unless one party or the other wins a substantial number of seats, the deadlock will probably continue. Whatever the outcome of the election, there is one more point to consider. Members of congress, Republican and Democrat alike, are fed up with the so-called imperial presidency that has all but ignored the legislative process and desecrated newly passed laws with egregious signing statments. Members of the next congress will begin to reassert their constitutional rights as a check and balance against overly strong executive authority. That, in itself, will require the next president to come to the table as one willing to negotiate.