The day after and the sadness of politics
After Friday's victory, I posted a little Twitter thread here. This is an expansion on my thoughts.
We really can't overstate what a crushing defeat this is for the forces of reaction. The GOP is in a position of power which no party has possessed since the heyday of the New Deal. The GOP can literally ram through anything it wants, at least on the House side. It didn't need a single Democratic vote to push through its Deathcare bill this week. If the caucus had stood united, Trumpcare would be heading towards the Senate under a head of steam.
But, as we saw, they couldn't get it done. Moby Obama again smashed the SS Repeal, and it wasn't even close.
It's one thing to have power. The GOP has had that for the past six years in its House majority. What it didn't have was responsibility. For most of that time, Harry Reid ran things in the Senate. For all of that time, Barack Obama was the last guardian of the galaxy at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., swatting down the gnats sent by John Boehner and Paul Ryan the way he famously killed that fly during an interview. Republicans were free to jerk off their base, sending repeal bill after repeal bill to the Senate and finally to the White House, sure in the knowledge that it would die.
Now, however, Republicans have that dread "responsibility". It's no longer play time. Anything which passes the House and Senate will become law. And at the moment of truth, they couldn't pull the trigger.
Once you have responsibility, a funny thing happens. The knives come out. Factions harden. And neither Paul Ryan nor Donald Trump know how to negotiate with equals. They're used to fleecing the rubes. The ideologues of the Freedom Caucus aren't going to be swayed by a loud-mouthed huckster who obviously didn't know what was in the Deathcare bill. And the moderates in districts won by Hillary Clinton weren't going to put their necks on the line for a Speaker who was ramming through a gargantuan bill, damn the consequences.
The GOP is not a governing party. It's barely a political party at all. It's mostly a collection of the aggrieved. Grievance is its main raison d'etre. Grievance is great for winning elections. The party is expert at that. But winning is the easy part. And grievance doesn't magically transmute to a governing philosophy. Pres. Obama turned the GOP into a party of bomb-throwers, with no constructive ideas for how to govern a vast, complex nation. And as its leader in the White House it has the ultimate bomb-thrower, a man who is comfortable only with his Twitter account, who thinks that one liners are a substitute for leadership. Pres. Obama spent 13 months pushing and prodding to get Obamacare passed. Trump gave up after 18 days. That lack of attention span does not bode well for any of the rest of the GOP agenda. A man who can't spend more than a few days campaigning to push through the Holy Grail of Republican promises of the past six years is not a man who can rewrite the tax code, or rework the web of US trade deals.
What this week showed is that Trump and Ryan are in way over their heads. Trump's deal-making prowess has been shown to be a fantasy, as much of a fantasy as Ryan's intellectualism. And all this is even without the cloud of treason which hangs over the entire GOP apparatus.
We were all crushed when Donald Trump squeaked through in the Electoral College. But this country was sick long before Trump arrived on the scene. Pres. Obama kept the patient stable; but the illness exploded last summer. And sometimes, one has to go through a virulent fever to come out well at the other end, healthier and stronger than before. That's where we are now. As painful as it will be, Trump and the GOP may be the necessary virus we have to suffer to attain an immunity.
Celebrate the victory. Then get back to working on the cure for what ails our body politic.
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