My most recent op ed on these pages suggested that some Democrats’ notion that Republicans, having won the 2010 election, now must “govern” was a bad idea and doomed to fail. But, at the same time, I argued that the Republicans, now having momentum and history on their side, should not surrender the initiative nor squander their opportunity.
This may seem to be a contradiction. My friend Tony Blankley argues persuasively that Republicans SHOULD govern from the House of Representatives (which they now control). Mr. Blankley was Newt Gingrich’s press secretary during Mr Gingrich’s speakership, and lived through the travails of the government shutdown in 1995. He points out that the communications environment has dramatically changed since then when liberal bias overwhelmingy dominated TV and print, and conservative radio talk show hosts were not so powerful as they are now.
No greater demonstration of Mr. Blankley’s point could be made than the recent dust-up over civility following the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. Without a scintilla of evidence or justification, many liberal media persons tried to use the tragedy as an attack on conservatism, conservative leaders, and the conservative grass roots. Unlike 1995, or any other time in the recent past, there was a powerful and effective response from the New Media forces, many of which are conservative. Within hours, it was obvious that the ruse would not work, and all polls indicate that the public did not buy the rants and hysteria from the left. The bottom line is that it was a clear net loss for the provocateurs and apologists from the left, their media outlets and their overall credibility. It took, of all persons, Barack Obama to rescue them from further damage.
The GOP-controlled house of representatives has now voted to repeal Obamacare. My point was to state the obvious, i.e., even if conservatives could force a vote in the U.S. senate, and then win a majority (with moderate Democratic crossovers), they could not get past President Obama’s inevitable veto. On the other hand, there are many ways to skin this political leopard, including de-funding (when possible) the various provisions of Obamacare, rendering it mostly inoperable until, with a Republican president, it can be fully repealed.
I think Mr. Blankley means this when he says the GOP should govern, as well as that conservatives should stand their ground if the administration decides to have a showdown over the deficit limit. This is NOT what Democrats mean when they say Republicans now have to govern. It’s a political sucker punch. What they want is for Republicans to take the responsibility for the fiscal morass that has grown since January, 2009. No one denies that the recession and economic breakdown occurred first under President George W. Bush, nor that his policies did not contribute to this crisis, nor that his treasury secretary initiated the bailouts which have now become all too big and routine. And while President Bush did cut taxes, he did not cut spending, and thus violated the basic rules of supply side economics. It was President Obama, his administration and the Democratic Congress of 2009-2011, however, which took bad policy, bad timing and bad ideas, and compounded them until our deficits have become astronomical nightmares. The chronic high unemployment, lack of a bounce-back in several economic sectors, and the lack of long-term confidence in the economy by both investors and executives is now the Democrats’ responsibility. It was the fundamentally unsound Obamacare legislation which hangs like a lead weight around the neck of U.S. economic prospects.
The new Republican majority in the house, and the several new GOP senators, received, in 2010, a stern direction from the majority of voters to repair these worsening and disturbing economic circumstances. There is also a very obvious and similar message for moderate liberal Democrats. The Republic cannot wait until January 20, 2013 to begin those repairs. That is what Mr. Blankley and other conservative commentators mean when they say that Republicans must somehow “govern” without the White House and control of the U.S. senate. Conservatives will have to enlist centrists of both parties to succeed.
It will be an acrobatic act to do so, but there is too much at stake not to do so.