Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tough GOP Choices: When Lying, Foot-Stomping No Longer Works

Tim F. @ Balloon Juice on the GOP's antics during Saturday's health care debate:

If it was not the most embarrassing display of bad behavior in recent government history, it is only because of everything else Republicans did lately. When lying didn’t work (they want to euthanize granny!) they tried hyperbole (health insurance reform is LITERALLY THE SAME THING AS STALIN TIMES THE HOLOCAUST!). Then they tried lying again. Then lying plus hyperbole, stamping their feet and shouting.

Normally the side that doesn’t have the law on its side, and doesn’t have the facts either, recognizes that you just lose twice if you throw your credibility and reputation into a losing fight. This fight was clearly different for Republicans, and you know what? They’re right. If the GOP had not pushed the Overton Window way to the right compared with where we started when Single Payer was still on the table (ish), Democratic moderates would have no problem supporting the watered down “moderate” compromise that the House finally passed yesterday. The bills would have steamrolled both houses of Congress with decent support from swing-district Republicans if the party had not made it a hill to die on with an emphasis on die.

Bill Kristol had it right in 1994. If Democrats effectively fix health care then Republicans are screwed. Any health care reform that does not suck even worse would effectively be written in stone as soon as it passed. Realigning their issue set to stay relevant could be quite awkward since Democrats already claimed most of the issues that Americans don’t hate. To stay alive Republicans would need to tack somewhere less crazy, but that would motivate Michelle Bachmann’s twenty-some percent of crazy people to go third party. Those two factors would effectively doom Republicans to share a shrinking back bench with the conservative fruitcake party and their pet schmuck Joe Lieberman.

So yeah, Republicans pulled out all the stops on this one.
The question conservatives who support this tactic should be asking themselves is "Ok, so what if this doesn't work?" If you have pinned your reputation on a message that isn't speaking to a majority of voters, isn't winning you elections, and isn't contributing to the creation of policy you can then tout as successful influence of governance, are you still a political party?

No, you're the "fringe." And what happens to the "fringe"? Well, people get tired of hearing from you. The excitement of crazy wears thin. And eventually, voters start expecting you to have something serious to say, or sit down and shut up.

All their eggs are in one paper mache pinata shaped like Sarah Palin's head, and though many of us on the left are enjoying the prospects of the next several years in power, the mere thought of a single party political arena similar to what we have here in Utah happening on a national scale should scare the shit out of even the most die hard of ideologues.

Here's to hoping the GOP outgrows tea-baggers and Club for Growth (who are still campaigning for Democrats, it seems) soon. But not too soon, we've still got a few more 2,000 pg -- gasp! -- SOCIALIST! takeover bills to push through.

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