Sunday, October 6, 2013

Maybe it’s Time for the Sane Republicans to Shine

In the initial phases of the government shutdown, the two parties appear to have switched personalities, with Republicans constantly fighting against internal disagreements and Democrats putting up a strong, united front.

In fact, Senate Democrats unanimously voted down a House bill which would have delayed funding for Obamacare, even though “Harry Reid didn’t convene a private caucus meeting to discuss the measure.” Republicans are using this rare show of unity among Democrats to assign blame for the shutdown on liberal obstinacy, but that is just a cheap political tactic.

I believe that the burden of the budget impasse rests squarely on the shoulders of Republicans who are deliberately using brinkmanship in a futile legislative effort to defund Obamacare. The worst part: Republicans know their effort is useless, yet they think deepening the crisis will solve the problem. Paul Ryan remarked that the impending debt limit “will be the forcing action to bring us- the two parties – together.” If you are a conservative, you should criticize your party for this reckless strategy which threatens to bring our nation to the abyss of default. Clearly, the Republican strategy to force a government shutdown in order to induce Democratic concessions on Obamacare is failing, and the continuation of a brinkmanship strategy is just a self-defeating measure.

This is not the first quixotic Republican crusade to repeal, defund, or delay Obamacare. On 42 occasions, a Republican Congressperson has taken it upon himself/herself to propose such a measure, most with the knowledge that it would only serve symbolic purposes (which could bring personal electoral benefits). Now, for whatever reason, the Republicans perceive the current budget battle as an opportunity to deal the Affordable Care Act a fatal blow.

As this past week has shown, this is a blatant misperception, with the President and Senate Democrats refusing to budge on their position that Obamacare will go into full effect. With Democrats holding the preponderance of power in any Obamacare-defeating measure, the Republicans simply do not possess the political power or capital to achieve their policy dream of killing the healthcare law. After 42 attempts and a solid Democratic response to the government shutdown, wouldn’t it make sense for the Republicans to concede this one demand and proceed with further budget negotiations?

Apparently not, as Republican leaders continue to stubbornly argue their demands, even while the shutdown hurts the country more and more with each passing day. The best conservative strategy to repeal Obamacare would be to wait until after 2016, when electoral outcomes could put them in a stronger position to pass their legislative agenda. If Americans are truly unhappy with the state of the country under Democratic leadership in 2016, then that will be reflected in the presidential and Congressional elections. Right now, the irresponsible insistence of the GOP leadership on a strategy of brinkmanship is crippling those electoral chances.

Because of this, conservatives everywhere should be joining with liberals in demanding that the Republicans lay aside this futile struggle. Not only is this shutdown holding the country hostage, but it is seriously jeopardizing the standing of the Republican Party. Furthermore, I believe that many members of the GOP realize the political realities in front of them, and are silently unhappy with their fellow party members who are leading the fruitless battle. Therefore, Republicans should lobby their more extreme political leaders to retire their unreasonable demands and get to work on passing a real budget.

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