We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. I'm very proud to be a member of the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that's both evil and stupid. That's called bipartisanshipOriginally calling the GOP "The stupid party" was a term of endearment. Not only did it contrast to the evil party but it was also a somewhat loving critique of the various problems in execution of of the Republican agenda. The party might sometimes be fumble-fingered, after all, but its heart was in the right place.
-M Stanton Evans
Not any more. When Bobby Jindal said that the GOP had to stop being the "stupid party" it was about messaging and perception that the Republicans are purely a tool of the very rich. One might very well expand on this. The repeating pattern that the Republicans have worked themselves into is one where:
- Some event happens--either a manufactured crisis, a world event, or an act by the Democrats / Obama.
- Initially there is unified voiced opposition or indictment--usually with the rhetoric turned up "to 11."
- The Republicans are then unable to agree on any unified actual response because of concerns about placating the base vs. scaring off the rest of America.
- Eventually the GOP folds accomplishing next to nothing and certainly nothing for their pragmatic constituencies.
- When the GOP lawmakers fold, the base becomes even more enraged and reinforces the pattern for its next iteration.
The result looks something like this:
|Out of Touch and Extreme: It's a Feature!|
We can see this evidenced in:
- The battle over the GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act.
- Republican governors adopting ObamaCare's Medicaid Expansion (First it was Rick Scott ... Now it's Chris Christie).
- The stand against Chuck Hagel (now confirmed).
- But nowhere is it more apparent than the sequester response.
- Edited to add: Benghazi!
While we dodged the Debt Ceiling and ducked the Fiscal Cliff it appears we're going to get smacked by the sequester. In response to the coming pain (whatever that turns out to be) the Republicans have been a hysterical flurry of contradictory messages. The plan now? For each party in the senate to bring a bill to vote that will not pass but will give them an excuse to make when / if something bad happens.
The Democrat's Defense
The Democrats are trying to "sound reasonable" with a $110bn bill that would put in a new minimum tax on those making more than 1MM per year, close corporate tax loopholes, end direct farm payments, and delay defense cuts.
The Republican's Resistance
Their master plan to give full power over the $85Bn cut to Obama so he'll take the blame for anything that goes wrong but it turns out no one can actually agree on it so this plan may not even get to a vote. You don't think this is a 'Stupid Party' moment? Consider that Obama is already having ICE release immigration detainees in advance response to impending cuts. Conservatives are outraged--and they want to give him more power? What sense does that make? No wonder Republican law makers are "divided."
But the point is this: no matter how bad the plan not being able to even agree on a plan is a worse plan!
The Stupid Party
If you can consider nothing else, consider this: if the first experience the average American has with cutting spending is this painful sequestration and they are aware (as is factually the case) that the government--both parties--entered into with their eyes open--how can you blame them for thinking that cutting spending is the worst idea ever!?
There's a point where pursuing your interests* (cutting spending) hurts your interests (making everyone think cutting spending is the worst thing ever). At that point, like a coyote caught in a trap, people who are not sucked into your whirlwind are starting to think about chewing their arms off to get out.
This legacy of the battle over the Debt Ceiling may be what actually separates the GOP from power in 2014 as the death-spiral finally has real-world consequences.
* We'll add Benghazi to the list when the final investigation dies down and the general public is left with the impression that the GOP is a group that just cries "wolf" over and over and over again ... (And just now, it looks like the emails finally provided to congress ... are a bust!)