Earlier today, the second blogger to received the coveted Frankly Curious Artist’s Rendering, Jonathan Bernstein, published A Minor Defense of Ryan and the Republicans. His point is that we can’t expect Republicans to be anything but Republicans. Obama winning re-election doesn’t suddenly mean that Republicans aren’t conservative or that they are just going to accept anything because the Democrats won in November.
I’ve written about this before. (And I wish I could find it!) I respect the Republicans for standing by their principles, even while I think those principles are totally vile. A robust democracy depends upon everyone energetically pushing their own ideas. The problem is not the Republicans trying to get the best deal they can in negotiations with Democrats. The problem is the Democratic Party and its tendency to seek out the middle. If the United States had a true liberal party, we would be getting policy that was to the left of the current president’s positions. But instead, all of Obama’s “reasonableness” just means we get gridlock when we don’t get ridiculously conservative policies.
Understand: I don’t claim that it is all the Democrats’ fault. But it is the lack of conviction of Democrats that has allowed the Republicans to become a revolutionary party. And there is no negotiating with these people. The Republican Party had a man as its standard bearer (John McCain) who was for a healthcare individual mandate while running for president, but the moment he lost he changed his position: suddenly, the individual mandate was socialism. I find this behavior extremely frustrating. But the Republican Party didn’t become crazy all by itself. The Democrats allowed this to happen by avoiding standing for anything lest it be used by the Republicans to claim that they were “liberal”! What a terrible fate: conservatives calling the liberal party “liberal”! That’s a fate worse than death!
So Bernstein is correct: we shouldn’t expect the Republican Party to role up into a ball and do whatever the Democrats say just because of the November election. Instead, we should expect the Democratic Party to start standing for actual liberal policies. And the great thing about that is if they do, it will pull the Republican Party back from the edge of the crazy cliff.