There’s another showdown in Washington between Obama on one side and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell on the other. But unlike in the great westerns of old, Obama will be sitting in the saloon drinking a whiskey, and it will be Boehner and McConnell on the street riddling each other with bullets. Now why would the Republican leaders do that? After all, this is all about funding for the Department of Homeland Security — one of the things that conservatives think the government should be spending on — and spending and spending and spending some more. It all comes back to the old saying that Democrats hate their base and Republicans fear theirs.
Normally, when I mention that saying, it is to complain about the way that the Democratic Party treats liberals like myself. But in this case, I have to admit that the attitude of the Democratic Party leadership at least makes sense. The Republican leaders are a pathetic lot — quaking in their boots about what a tiny slice of their base wants. And what that group wants doesn’t make a lick of sense. The argument is always the same: if the Republicans just held strong and didn’t give in, the Democrats would cave. If shutting down the government for a week doesn’t work, do it for a month! If a month doesn’t work, do it for a year!
It would be one thing if such displays of stubbornness hurt the Democrats as much as they did the Republicans. But of course, they don’t. It’s like what Joe Biden said during the last vice-presidential debate, “Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this?” As a liberal, I may complain that the Democratic Party is too quick to compromise. But as a result, the folks know that when there is a stand off like this, it’s the Republicans who are to blame. And so the Republicans will eventually cave. And the Republican base will grumble that the party doesn’t act like “The Zax”:
This is about the level of conservative thought in this country. “The Zax” was written to show five year olds that compromise was a good thing and that stubbornness doesn’t get you anywhere. But let’s look at a little history shall we.
After the 2008 election, Republicans responded to their defeat by claiming that they hadn’t actually lost because President Obama wasn’t born in the United States and thus wasn’t qualified to be president. After they won the 2010 election and took over the House, they acted as though that meant that they controlled the whole government. Sadly, the Democrats in large part went along with this and allowed for some pretty bad policy. In 2012, the Republicans against lost. In fact, they lost the vote in the House of Representatives, but the Republicans still managed to control it because our system is not very democratic. They still felt that they controlled all of Washington and shut down the government. They even threatened to crash the economy. And after the 2014 election, they got control of both houses of Congress. And they are really mad that Obama doesn’t just abdicate and make Boehner president.
The Republicans can’t get everything that that they want because they don’t control all of the government. But rather than compromise a little, they behave like The Zax. And their base cheers them on. They stand there in the middle of the field and refuse to move when the smallest of compromise would allow them to move along and accomplish things they care about. Meanwhile, the world around them continues on. And this, my friends, is how great empires fall: not by catastrophe, but inch by inch — doing nothing. And the Republican base cheers that just one more election cycle of doing nothing at all will allow them to finally do something. Of course, its been over thirty years since the Republicans Party has known what it is they want to do. Once in power, President Ted Cruz will yaw after his first good night of sleep in the White House and think, “What should I do? What did Bush do before me? Oh, that’s right: tax cuts for the rich. That’s what I’ll do!”