How Republicans Have Set Themselves Up To Fail
The GOP looks likely to win substantial victories next Tuesday, and may even take control of both Houses of Congress, but they've already made their own failure inevitable.
Rick Moran argues that, though it is likely set for substantial gains in both Houses of Congress one week from today, the GOP has already laid out the course of its own failure:
The seeds of GOP failure have already been sown during this campaign and it is extremely doubtful that Republicans can achieve any of their short term goals, much less change the culture of America to reflect their outdated views of small government, low taxes, and a much stricter interpretation of the Constitution.
There is no doubt government can be “smaller,” taxes “lower,” and judges put in place who would take a friendlier view of original intent. But the exaggerated goals of tea partiers and other conservatives is a pie in the sky impossibility — the result of a fundamental misreading of modern American society and a refusal to recognize that, as in life, a nation cannot “go home” and recapture a period in time now lost to the ages.
Most analysts now agree that the Republicans will take the House next Tuesday. While it is doubtful they can sweep the table and take the senate as well, they will certainly score significant gains in that body. But will this sweeping victory be due to any ideas the Republicans have been promoting? In other words, can the GOP rightfully claim a mandate to govern?
Getting the deficit under control and getting people back to work are legitimate GOP aspirations and if voted into office, members of congress can claim a broad mandate to accomplish those goals. The “return to Constitutional government” – whatever that means specifically – is also broadly accepted as part of the Republican platform, although such a nebulous goal can be interpreted a thousand different ways. Then there is the rollback of Obama’s agenda in health care, financial reform, and other Washington power grabs that enjoy the support of a plurality of voters – if that.
How much success will the Republicans have in accomplishing any of those goals? The answer is, this is an agenda bred for failure.
The reasons for this are quite apparent. As long as Barack Obama is in the White House, and thanks to the Senate rules that they themselves used so skillfully, Republicans will simply be unable to achieve the goals that they’ve set for themselves. Which, of course, is why they’re already talking a whole new set of goals. As I noted yesterday, top Republicans in both houses of Congress are now essentially saying that the agenda for the 112th Congress will involve obstruction, gridlock, and laying the groundwork for a 2012 challenge against Barack Obama.
As Rick notes, this paints a rather bleak picture of America for the next two years:
Unable to get anything passed because their numbers are too few, the GOP will refuse to deal with the president because their rabid, frothing at the mouth base of partisans equates compromise with weakness. The art of governance is lost on these mountebanks — as it was with their counterparts on the left in 2008 — because so certain are they of the moral rightness of their cause that they regard compromise as dealing with the devil (or, for the left, whatever the secular equivalent). Hence, we had the spectacle of rabid leftists calling for the heads of more moderate Blue Dogs because they dared to seek compromise with Republicans on the major agenda items. Similarly, compromise with President Obama by Republicans on anything will be deemed as a betrayal of the electoral “mandate” the GOP will win next Tuesday.
With the nation in an economic crisis the likes of which have not been seen since the 1930’s and the American people crying out for leadership, the GOP will freeze like a deer in headlights, terrified that any move to get anything done in Washington to alleviate our economic problems will be seen as “caving in” to Obama and the Democrats and rile the tea party crowd, leading to a slew of primary challenges for members in 2012. Hence, the prospect of gridlock while the nation continues to sink into economic stagnation and ennui.
As I noted yesterday, politically this seems like an incredibly stupid strategy on the part of the GOP. Like the Democrats before them, Republicans seem to be entering the 2010 elections convinced that the victories they are likely to achieve are the result of the fact that public has endorsed their policies, and their strategy for dealing with the President. In reality, there’s little evidence that this is true, and substantial evidence that the GOP is merely benefiting from the fact that the economy is in dire shape. Looking deeper into recent polls, for example, it’s clear that voters are as dissatisfied with Republicans as they are with Democrats:
The fact that voters are about to vote Republican is more about their frustration with a Democratic majority that has failed in it’s primary tasks than it is an endorsement of Republican policies, or of the idea that it would be just great if we spent the next two years engaged in yet another partisan fight. If they were smart, Republicans would remember the lessons that Democrats failed to learn, look at the fact that, the President’s job approval is higher than theirs, and rethink the obstruct and investigate strategy that they seem to be committed to adopting when Congress convenes in January. Instead, they seem to be doubling down, and Rush Limbaugh’s “I hope he fails” mantra of early January 2009 now seems to be the official policy of the Republican Party.
At a time when the nation faces serious economic problems, and when a foreign policy crisis could be just around the corner, the political polarization that seems to have become the new normal in American politics doesn’t strike me as the wisest choice, but, as Moran notes, it’s what we’re left with:
It would take real political courage and statesmanship for both sides to build a bridge across the abyss we have dug for ourselves and meet in a spirit of real bi-partisan compromise. There are no giants in congress anymore, only misshapen trolls and midgets whose cynicism about the system requires that they gather as much wealth and power as they can before being retired by their constituents or leaving office to find an even more lucrative position in the revolving door of Washington interest peddling.
Cynicism in Washington breeds cynicism among the populace. And the coming Republican failure to fulfill the wishes of the electorate will only add to the feeling of hopelessness that stalks the land in the second decade of the 21st century. Where will we be 10 years from now?
I see three options. Either the partisan wars come to an end because one side or the other is defeated, they end because both sides realize that it’s all just very foolish, or they continue until we reach a crisis point and people finally realize that it’s time to stop arguing over the Outrage Of The Day and actually fix what’s wrong with this country. Neither of the first two scenarios seem likely at all to me, which leaves us with this third, and that’s not something I look forward to at all.