Opinion | Congressional conservatives discredit the movement they support themselves
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 01:10
By the time this goes to print, Congressional Republicans will have shut down the government or cut another embarrassing last-minute deal by continuing resolution to prolong our ridiculous government. No matter what happens, the process that’s gotten us to this point has greatly discredited the conservative movement as a legitimate governing coalition in America.
A centerpiece of Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency and numerous losing Republican Senate candidates was a commitment to repeal President Obama’s central legislative achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As everyone knows, Governor Romney lost, Democrats held their majority in the Senate, and Republicans held their wide majority in the House.
I began the last sentence with “as everyone knows”, but that might have been assuming too much. There are more than a few key people who are acting like the circumstances are much different. I’m referring to conservatives in the House and Senate who are holding their conferences hostage by acting like they won the election and political circumstances are such that it’s actually possible to defund Obamacare. This is all despite the fact that Republicans hold just one-third of the legislative power, and there are not sweeping majorities of the public in favor of defunding Obamacare.
Conservatives in Congress have refused to pass the eight appropriations bills that truly fund the government (four defense related bills have passed). Instead, they are working off a seemingly endless continuing resolution (CR). We’ve been playing this game for over two years, and quite frankly, it’s a tiresome and irresponsible approach to governing. Sometimes it’s the debt ceiling. Other times it’s the debt ceiling and automatic tax increases. This time it’s the debt ceiling, the CR and a fixation on defunding a bill supported by the White House and the Senate. The way to change government is to win elections. Republicans did that in 2010 due to the President’s overreach, but now they’ve made the same mistake the White House made without even a quarter of the leverage the White House inherently has.
They’ve misread their mandate. And worse, the conservative movement has been hijacked by politicians with no idea how to legislate and no clear grand strategy other than starve the beast whenever possible. These people are going to send the movement back into the wilderness, and Americans will continue to see more of the same in Washington D.C.. This may be a center-right country, but come midterm season, voters are likely to tell Republicans enough is enough. Especially if they shut down the government, because if they do, it will be nobody’s fault but their own, and they will probably lose the House. Bomb throwing and a lack of strategy are both fine if you’re fine with losing every election of importance. But if you lose every important election, you can’t do anything. Without the House, there’s no real opposition to the forward march of liberalism—no essential critique of their natural overreach. That’s a terrifying future, but conservatives in the House and Senate may have maneuvered us into that very position. Given their government by crisis strategy of the past few years, why should the American people trust Republicans to run anything these days?
The answer is clear; they’re serious about cutting the debt. And when it’s well north of $16 trillion, that’s reason to give their ridiculous antics their day in court. But that day has passed. Let’s quit the government by crisis and instead prove we’re actually serious about cutting the debt however and whenever it’s possible. Conservatives failed to do even that. I guess they’ve just been too caught up in their own noise.