Friday, October 18, 2013

Conservatives must learn from the shutdown

Speaker Boehner: ‘’We just didn’t win’’

16 days overdue, thus ends an American take on Monty Python. Without the satire.

The White House has preserved ObamaCare, Democrats have won clean resolutions and the GOP has been humbled into a very public and very bloody retreat.

For Republicans, there are only two positives.

First, with this deal, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has probably saved the GOP from being vanquished in next year’s Mid-Terms. Second, McConnell has challenged the President to live up to his word and engage in serious negotiations (my take on 'serious') before next January. In short, McConnell has given CPR to a party drowning in emotion.

For leading the GOP off its Maginot Line, McConnell deserves the gratitude of all conservatives.

Unfortunately, he won’t get it. 

Instead, the very opposite is likely to occur. Conservative firebrands will rage against his ‘betrayal of conservative values’. McConnell’s primary challenger, Matt Bevin, can expect his campaign coffers to brim. After all, for a loud but vocal conservative minority, compromise is treason. A capital crime. 

This insipid absolutism can’t continue. It’s time for us, the majority of conservatives; the ‘quiet conservatives’, to bring reason back to Republican politics.

For a start, we need to recognize what we’re up against - that there are those in our movement who see ‘purity’ as their defining cause. That for these conservatives, politics isn’t about asserting an agenda, it’s about purging the ‘ideologically impure’. We need to recognize that these partisans see themselves as the modern incarnations of John Stark’s heroic toast, - ‘’Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.’’ That for these men and women, political death is preferable to compromise.

Next, we need to point out the fallacy of their argument.

Let’s cut the faux patriotism, ObamaCare is not the British Army and this isn’t the Revolutionary War. In their struggle, Stark and his comrades were fighting for an ideal that was both pure and possible – freedom and independence.

Neither was true with regards to the GOP strategy on ObamaCare. As I argued earlier this week, demanding that Obama sacrifice his landmark law was always implausible. Democrats control the Senate and the Executive. The Judiciary has rendered its decision- the law conforms with the Constitution. The polls were also clear- Americans might dislike ObamaCare, but they disliked the GOP’s brinkmanship even more. On top of it all, Obama had a post-Syria necessity to project clear leadership.

Unsurprisingly, the news coverage has reflected this understanding. Instead of focusing on the absurd incompetence of the ObamaCare rollout, the media set up camp on a different story – one centered in a Republican celebration of rudderless obstructionism. A political opposition marching in perfect step with Democratic propaganda. A modern tea party… without the tea.

For conservatives, this strategic delusion speaks to our burgeoning fetish - self-immolation at the shrine of partisan resistance.

Over the last two weeks, the House GOP has rendered itself the governing equivalent of a skydiving team without parachutes- for two minutes, soaring ecstasy as the jumpers sail through the clouds. Until terminal velocity meets certain gravity. Then truth renders its judgment – the illusion of omnipotence at an awful price. Self-destruction is the nemesis of political reason.

If we’re serious about preventing an American welfare state, we conservatives need to get serious.

We need to grasp the virtuous truth- that Political leadership demands both courage and rationality. That in a democracy, believing alone isn’t enough. In the end as with all arguments, political success requires presenting a case, persuading voters and pursuing change.

The alternative is what we’ve seen today. A gleeful Democratic party, a preaching President and a Republican brand that’s bobbing in the sewer.

Please watch video below for my thoughts on broader issues involved.

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