October, 2013 will be remembered as the month when establishment Republicans adopted a new strategy for trying to repeal laws that they claim to oppose: Disney Politics. This feared tactic requires that American citizens not depend upon help from their elected representatives when they are threatened by unfair and costly legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act. Instead, politicians such as Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John McCain suggested via their hostility toward Senator Ted Cruz and other conservative members of Congress that the American people “wish really hard that Obamacare goes away.”
Since the passage of Obamacare, the theme of the Republican Party heading into the following elections has been the repeal of this law. And in the typical post-election Republican tradition, the usual GOP strategists and self-appointed leaders give their usual song-and-dance about how they will have a better chance of repealing the ACA “after the next election.”
Obviously, the route taken by conservatives to repeal the ACA is completely different than the one that is preferred by the Republican elite. The GOP plan is to allow the ACA to self-destruct under the weight of its own imperfections, and the backlash from voters would result in Republican landslides in the 2014 and 2016 elections.
Sadly, this course of inaction within the Republican Party is proof that Republicans have accepted the communist philosophy that the end justifies the means, since such a belief in this philosophy would explain why the GOP elite wanted an unobstructed rollout of Obamacare. However, arrogance and/or lack of planning resulted in those “strategists” failing to acknowledge that the huge expense of this law would financially hurt countless Americans between now and the next two elections.
Why should hundreds of thousands – or perhaps millions – of American citizens be forced to endure unnecessary economic hardships in order to eventually – or maybe never – punish Democrats? This strategy is proof that the Republican elite are interested in little more than winning elections; campaign promises are nothing more than words that are mentioned to win an election, not commitments that elected politicians will pursue in good faith.
The budget crisis and the implementation of Obamacare are intentional acts of irresponsibility at the federal level, and Senator Cruz used the opportunity to address both when the two happened to intersect at the beginning of the fiscal year. While the conservative members of Congress chose to pursue the fulfillment of a campaign promise, the elitist members of the Republican Party never strayed from their usual course of action, which is to ignore campaign promises until the next election season, and agree with Democrats that the budget crisis is better off resolved at a future date.
Conservatives have a difficult job in Washington. They have to work within a Party that has become a good old boys club — with no tolerance for anyone other than Republicans who accept the GOP’s east-coast interpretation of conservatism.
Conservatives also have to try and negotiate with Democrats who believe that the act of compromise is when Republicans cave into the demands of Democrats – in exchange for a promise to be broken later, and a President who believes that compromise is total submission from his opponents in Congress.
With these obstacles, conservatives realized that a government shutdown was unavoidable. As the shutdown progressed, the theatrics from both Parties — from the Department of Defense withholding death benefits for the families of deceased military members who had been killed in action, as well as the blockades of national parks, to Republican leaders who openly criticized the “wacko birds” within their ranks, both sides had unintentionally highlighted the irresponsible behavior that they wanted everyone outside of Washington to ignore.
Despite the overblown news reports of the carnage that supposedly lies in the path of the government’s semi-shutdown, members of both parties have shown their mutual contempt for American citizens who expect accountability from their elected leaders. Is there any question why trying to communicate with a politician is akin to dropping a comment card into a bottomless suggestion box, which had been strategically hung above a waste basket?
On the October 22, 2013 episode of the O’Reilly Factor, pollster Kellyanne Conway tried to explain just how much “damage” that conservatives had done via their part in the shutdown. She stated that conservatives and radio talk show hosts who support Ted Cruz and his strategy believe that they are on the “winning side” simply by looking at their own internal information related to the shutdown. In all fairness, Republicans had engaged in the same practice during the 2012 presidential election when they relied solely on internal polling data that projected a Mitt Romney landslide, while polling data from traditional media outlets were much closer to the actual results of the election.
Perhaps John McCain best summarized the thoughts of many members of Congress when he said just how important poll numbers are to politicians. Caring about a superficial image in public is counterproductive to the nature of a leader. For example, if a supervisor within a police department has ten subordinates over whom he or she is in charge, eight out those ten will most likely not like a decision that he or she had to make on any given day.
For years, Democrats have been pushing the stereotype of Republicans as of out-of-touch, old, rich, self-serving white guys. Sadly, the Republican establishment has recently gone out of its way to turn this stereotype into a self-fulfilling prophecy, since the opposition to the efforts of Senator Cruz and the Tea Party include Boehner, McConnell, McCain and Lindsey Graham, among others; each one of these politicians fit the out-of-touch, old, rich, self-serving, white guy coalition stereotype.
The politicians who have taken a page out of the Disney playbook by trying to “wish away” Obamacare probably believe that they could also win lots of money at a race track – without placing a bet.
Image: Courtesy of RLJ Photography NYC; CC by 2.0; Ray