Congressional Democrats voting for ObamaCare may have held out hope that the legislation would not as unpopular as polls consistently suggested, but they can’t have been too surprised at the loss of the House as a result of their vote. Yet Democrats were willing to lose their seats and control of Congress to enact a long held policy ambition during a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of the White House, the House and a filibuster-proof Senate.
Contrast their courage with the fecklessness of the current Republican majority, whose refusal to repeal ObamaCare, and willingness to accede to the liberal status quo budget renders them all but useless as a governing majority. Establishment Republican fears of being blamed for a government shutdown are so severe that they are are willing to cede any issue in order to avoid it, even though there is no evidence that shutdowns are inherently damaging to their party.
In the last quarter century, there have been two government shutdowns, one in 1995-96 lasting a cumulative 26 days, and another in 2013, lasting 16 days. In 1996, the GOP lost three House seats – an incredible achievement given that they had picked up 54 in the previous election – and gained two Senate seats. In 2014, the GOP gained 13 House seats and an incredible 9 Senate seats.
At least in political terms, one would think that the GOP would try to maneuver Democrats into the shutting down the government, yet they behave like Dracula being shown the cross at its very mention. The GOP’s unwillingness to fight nullifies their electoral wins by robbing their voters of the fruits of victory, and renders future electoral victories less likely by dispiriting their base.
Why bother organizing, giving money or even voting when the schmuck you put in office folds like a cheap suit before the first hand is even dealt? True, a Republican will generally not try to destroy the country as founded with the same enthusiasm as their “friends” across the aisle, but playing for a stalemate is a poor political slogan, and idiotic when holding almost all the cards.
Planned Parenthood will receive taxpayer funding despite undercover videos showing the commercial harvesting of unborn baby body parts, but the people who made the video are being prosecuted by the State of California. Sanctuary cities, with their neo-confederate refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, will get their money, but the wall to protect American citizens from south-of-the-border criminals will get nothing.
Despite a $587 billion deficit in 2016, and a federal debt that has doubled from $10 trillion to $20 trillion in the last nine years, the budget agreed to by congressional Republicans adds spending to domestic programs, and fails to enact $18 billion in cuts to the EPA and other agencies that the President has requested.
Trump managed to win the general election on the basis of his willingness to fight illegal immigration, ObamaCare, and the economic stagnation brought about by socialist policies. Yet Trump now wins or loses based on the actions of congressional Republicans, who either haven’t absorbed the lessons of his victory, or are unwilling to repeat it.
If Republicans are ever to succeed in reversing the slow but quickening decline of the United States into a bankrupt, entitlement-obsessed welfare state, they will have to face down and defeat the Democrats at some point. The American people did not give the Republican Party the White House, the Senate and the House to make excuses, but to roll back the pernicious effects of the Obama years.
If Republicans don’t deliver on their many promises to repeal ObamaCare, reform the tax code and get spending under control, the American people will vote them out – not because they like the other guys better, but just to punish them for being two-faced spineless wimps. Above all, Americans like winners; they don’t like losers, and they especially hate people who make excuses for why they don’t even try.
Maybe congressional Republicans will turn it around. Nuking the filibuster against Neil Gorsuch was a solid step, though if they had allowed that to stand the consequences would’ve been unimaginable. The Republican leadership needs to take chances, enforce discipline and be willing to lose elections to affect major policy changes. They may be surprised to discover that when you fight for what you believe, people tend to support you, even if they don’t agree with everything you stand for.
Of course, that assumes Republicans actually stand for anything, something that after their non-repeal of ObamaCare, and this budget deal, is very much in doubt.
The author is a former Republican campaign operative. His work has appeared in USA Today, Real Clear Politics, The Federalist, and the Daily Caller. He has also appeared on Dan Caplis show on KNUS710. He currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area. Follow him on Twitter @PHGuthrie