Perhaps the Republican Party should pursue something most people support.
That remark is not flippant, sarcastic or calling for the impossible. Most people support much more infrastructure spending but not another tax cut for the rich, for example. Most people support the troops, too, or say they do. Most people want the major political parties to talk to each other and work for the common good. The most popular thing any Republican in Washington has done in the last nine months was when the president snapped up a deal offered by Democrats.
Perhaps it is time to reflect after the GOP wasted nine months on four different Obamacare repeal plans. None of those plans enjoyed popular support. Most of them did not even enjoy majority support among rank-and-file Republicans. I am almost confident enough to say none of the plans enjoyed majority Republican voter support once their details came out. Details came out despite the Senate Republicans' best efforts. Three strong signs that a bill is a stinker are when it is shrouded in secrecy, pushed in haste and constantly re-written. All three just happened four times.
It is pretty obvious the GOP did not get a mandate to run the country. They got a mandate that the country did not want the Democrats running it.
Every harsh thing I say today about Republicans would apply to Democrats if Democrats knew how to win an election. They do not. The Democrats' decline at the local, state and congressional level since 2010 is better described as a free fall. Losing the 2016 presidential race was just the roof finally caving in on a building that had been engulfed in flame since 2010.
It is true the Republicans in Congress promised repeal of Obamacare to their loyal party base. The problem is, they then won their majority by promising the general election voters they would replace Obamacare with a better plan. "Repeal" and "replace" proved mutually exclusive. A plan could not be a true repeal unless it sharply cut government spending. Yet the GOP found itself unable to fully replace Obamacare with anything that was not darned expensive.
Republicans would work harder on their policies' popular appeal if they had effective general election opposition. Instead they have the luxury, if one can call it that, of being able to try hard and repeatedly to pass bills most of the country hates. This proves something. The nation's dominant political party only really cares about 30 percent or so of the voters. Everyone else can take a flying leap. I do not think this is a attitude that will lead to long-term success. So far, the short term has not been so hot either.
The stark reality of running for office in 21st century America is that 30 percent on one end of the political spectrum makes up 60 percent of a party's base. That is what happens when you cut the full spectrum in half with a two-party system. Each party's 30 percent on the ends includes the donors who provide the lion's share of the campaign money. These folks decide who gets nominated. Therefore, when the general election finally gets here, the wider spectrum of voters must choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
The increasingly undeniable problem is that the 30 percent that happens to be in power at any given time cannot get what they demand because popular support still factors into getting laws passed here. The frightening consequence of that is how determined each 30 percent has become to get its way no matter what the nation's majority thinks. Witness the last nine months.
Sometimes, Republicans in their desire to cut social spending, for example, seem just like liberals on climate change. Both believe compromise leads only to ineffective half-measures. Drastic action is needed. Just slowing the rate of decline is unacceptable. Therefore, one issue will not make any headway until the nation is financially ruined and the other will not until Miami is underwater.
So the Republican Party has a decision to make. Does it want to stoke a backlash or not? Because right now, it seems the Democrat's best available option to getting control of the House in the next election relies on GOP stubborness.
Commentary on 09/30/2017
Print Headline: The tightrope goes nowhere