Free Markets, Free People

The Republicans are lost: a continuing saga

It looks like the GOP might very well take back the House this fall. They even have an outside shot at the Senate. If some of the dynamics, such as the results in Missouri last week, continue to move in their direction, this could be an historic election.

My reaction to that is basically “So what?”

As I’ve said before, when it comes to any serious change in direction for the country, the current crop of Republicans is not the solution, they’re part of the problem.

It’s no better now than when I wrote the earlier post. The oleoginous Cantor is still in the House leadership. You can seem him in a picture associated with this article in the Washington Examiner, which points out that the GOP has absolutely no idea what to do if they happen to get back the Congress.

To me, the following sentence in that article was most telling:

Some young House Republicans have put out a call for voters to e-mail their ideas.

In other words, even the newest current GOP members of Congress don’t have a clue what to do.

If these young Congressmen are sincere, it means they’re unqualified for their jobs. Why are they doing in their seats if they don’t have a clue what to do to lead the country?* Plus, you can sum up what should be their highest priority in two words: cut spending. There are already plenty of ideas on how to do that, and if they need more, placing a list of federal programs on a dartboard and throwing darts would probably work pretty well.

Their second highest priority can also be expressed in two words: repeal Obamacare. Among Republican politicians, that one should not even be controversial. All the polls we’ve seen say that Republican voters are foresquare for that option.

The more likely interpretation of their email appeal, though, is that it’s just a cynical way to look as though they are listening to their constituents. They know they aren’t going to do anything of importance, but they’re too cowardly to admit it.

So they’re just playing politics as usual, every chance they get. Here’s another example, in which you can see Cantor railing about Rangel and his ethics violations:

Personally, I think “Chollie” Rangle is a snake, but I get a lot less incensed over his extra apartments than I do over the fact that he has spent forty years trying to figure out ways to take money from people he doesn’t like and give it to people he does. That, plus his complete indifference to the long term damage to American society of those thefts.

Likewise, this “drain the swamp” rhetoric from Republicans like Cantor means nothing to me. I consider the revolving door between politicians and high-paid lobbyists to be just as ethically wrong as more direct means of appropriating other people’s money. We’ve seen people like Trent Lott use that door recently, and I’m expecting Cantor to use it at some point later in his life. So of course, he’s not going to say anything about that problem, and that makes his lamentations about Rangel nothing more than political theater.

It’s all intended to paper over the problem that the current crop of Republicans is clueless about where to go from here. The know if they just go through the motions, as Cantor is doing above, they’ll probably get back control and the perqs that go with it. So, in their minds, why should they risk such a windfall from the Democrat’s blunders? Why should they actually stand up for proposals that might really make a difference but are guaranteed to make some constituency mad and endanger their chances of recovering Congressional dominance?

For establishment Republicans, the name of the game is not leading the country. It’s gaining and holding onto power. That, of course, is why so many of us see so little difference between the parties – the Democrats have the exact same goal.

The time is almost certainly coming when that game makes our economic and political system so unstable that establishment politicans get their playing field yanked out from under them. However, I don’t think more than one in ten of them have the imagination to envision such an outcome, and the rest are just hoping to push it down the road until they’re gone. It’s going to have to get a lot worse before establishment GOP politicans either wake up or get kicked to the curb.

Until then, enjoy the football game this November, and cheer for your team as you watch the election returns, but understand that we won’t get any difference that really matters. Yes, Obama’s hard left ideology will be blunted, and I also prefer divided government to what we have now. But the big goal is reversal, and we’re just not yet in bad enough shape for that to happen. A GOP victory this fall just means a small delaying action against the coming reckoning.

After all, the Republicans could repeal Obamacare, sell off huge government interests in automotive and finance industries, cut a trillion dollars in spending and they would be… back where we were nineteen months ago when Obama took office. I consider it preposterous that they’ll even do a fraction of that.

We’ll have to do much, much more to regain a stable long term government, because the debt bomb ticks louder every month. Social Security and Medicare are going to blow up in our faces; the math and demographics are simply inescapable.

I’d like to be optimistic and presume that the GOP is working to establish a base, and gearing up for serious action after hopefully winning the White House back in 2012. But I’m not. They’re just floating along, riding their perqs, and waiting for the Democrats to keep looking bad. Based on everything I’ve seen about the establishment GOP, they never intend to do anything that seriously reverses the growth of spending and debt. Even if a Pawlenty or Daniels were sitting in the White House, these drones in Congress like Cantor are never going to take the risky and painful actions needed to avert the consequences of too-large-and-ever-growing government.

(*) I ask this rhetorically, of course. Many of them are members of the parasitic political class, and considerations of how to lead the country had little or nothing to do with their decision to run.

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37 Responses to The Republicans are lost: a continuing saga

  • I agree with you whole hardheartedly but didn’t want to say it. I don’t  want to hurt the chances of the Republicans getting at least one of the houses and getting divided government.
    If they do get Congress I would like to see full investigations of the Czars. We were told they are just advisers to the President but the pay Czar has already taken actions on his own that I know of, which means they are setting and implementing  policy,  not just advising. We must find out what they are doing and then strip them of authority to do anything farther.

    • After all that noise about the AG firings at the end of Bush 43, I want DOJ ripped to shreds for the utter crap that has been going on under Eric “nation of cowards” Holder.

  • Funny, I think the idea of asking voters what they think seems…I dunno…kinda like representative democracy.
    Weren’t we all…aren’t we all…flabbergasted by the disconnect between the political class and the people?
    Of the things on the current radar to be cranked about, asking people for their thoughts would go on my “oh, good” side.

    • Seriously, Rags? The Republicans will get something both substantial and that they have not thought of from an email?

      Look, I would take the whole “representative democracy” thing seriously if the Republicans had already tried a bunch of serious efforts and had run out of ideas. They had six years to do it, during some of which they had both houses of Congress and the White House. They did zilch. 

      As I said in the post, there are totally obvious things to do. It’s not that the Republicans need ideas. They need principles and spine.

      Nope, I stand by what I said. It’s just a way for the GOP to duck the obvious things they ought to be figuring out how to do because they don’t want to stand up for necessary changes that will make entrenched interest angry.

      • We talk…some of us blog…constantly about how the Swamp breeds a warped reality.  We TALK like we believe that, and for good reasonsssss.
        Power, as I wrote just yesterday, behaves in predictable ways.  One why it behaves…especially when dominated by the Collective…is a very active shaping of perceptions.  People in the power elite are swimming in a cess-pool of lies, distortions, etc.  I don’t consider it at all a bad thing if some of them try anything for a breath of fresh air.
        I TOTALLY get the frustration fueling all this from you guys, though.  I’ve been saying for…oh, decades now…that the Machine has structural, organic flaws that will grind new meat up.  It is what POWER will do.  The Machine co-opts who it can;  it destroy or renders impotent  who it cannot.
        The problem is in the gears of the Machine.  We have to repair our government at a RADICAL level (from the Latin for root).  That will take MUCH more than an election of new meat.  But new meat is a START.

    • Fine Rags, they can ask, I’m all for them asking – then what?  It’s a positive sign, if they’re sincere.  Some of them almost certainly are, but they aren’t the ones in power positions.
      I know this game, sometimes I ask my wife if there’s anything I can do (over and above what she has planned for the day) when I know full well that the extra stuff won’t get done because of the other stuff we’re already doing.    But I get brownie points for asking!
      Based on what I see in the Republican non-Leadership, Billy has it nailed.  I’ve complained Obama isn’t a leader, and right now, there’s no Republican ‘leaders’ that I trust to lead.  It’s like looking at a collection of early Civil War (War of Northern Aggression for you die hard southern aficionados) Union Generals – the ones who ARE good are too low to have any large control, and the ones who have control largely appear to be idiots.

    • Obviously you have not donated money to the Rep.s in the last twenty years. If you had, you would be on their mailing list and receive endless surveys (with accompanying fund raising appeal, naturally) asking what you think about various issues and what is important to you. In other words, they already have this information.
      Which is, of course, further evidence of their incompetence and dishonesty.

      • OK, there’s a good point there.  What’s the difference between a survey asking me what I think is important, and a request for ideas on how to get to important outcomes?

      • The last time I gave money, it took over 10 years to get them to stop sending me pitches (which is why I stopped giving money).
        My mother, who has be dead for 6 years now, still gets pitches in the mail.

  • And Billy – dammit…why do you have to be so freaking on target.

  • Hey, Scott Erb et al, next time you accuse the people of this site of being a big Republican fan board, an accusation I’m quite tired of and seriously undermines your credibility every time you use it, I’m pointing you back to this post. A fan would be experiencing schadenfreude and wildly promising deliverance after this November, not posting anything like this.
    This site criticized Bush and is preemptively criticizing the incoming Republican (noar-)majority in Congress before it even happens. Stop projecting your own black/white view on us.

    • For all Erb’s raling to the contrary, I think the majority here are realists.  A fact he doesn’t comprehend when he comes in and pretends we fill the same mindless drone niche for the center/right that he occupies on the left.

  • McQ-
    Holding the Republicans’ feet to the fire is well and good. And, I also despise the Republican “establishment.” In a they-endorsed-Crist, they-endorsed-Scozzafava, they-ran-McCain, they-passed-NCLB, they-passed-Medicare-Part-D world, Republicans have consistently shown the failures to live up to real support of conservatism and the cause-of-liberty.
    But, McQ, your “So what?” reaction is entirely misplaced!
    Don’t buy into the lie that “Democrats, Republicans, they’re all the same”. It’s. Not. True.   At. All.
    There are actual and dramatic differences between the parties. Even at the establishment level. Even if we just had a President McCain (gag), there would be no government-takeover-of-healthcare-bill, there would be no porkulous bill, no relatively young liberals on the SCOTUS … the-list-goes-on-and-on.
    No, the Republicans aren’t perfect. Far from it! Call them on their crap. But the prospect of replacing Nancy Pelosi with Eric Cantor – yes, even Eric Cantor! – as Speaker of the House should solicit a “Hallelujia!”, not a “So what?”.

    • There is a real problem with the DC side of the Republican party.  They really don’t believe in smaller government, merely not as big as the Democrats.  These are the folks that gave us Bob Dole (a nice enough guy, sustained a head injury in WWII and became a politician) and John McCain (a nice enough guy, an ideological wander, and a terrible candidate). Reagan had to run against these folks, as well as the Democrats, to win.

      • kudos of the day go to …

        Ryan concludes. “We can’t just give [the nomination] to next guy in line. It has to go to the candidate best equipped to advance our principles and who understands the moment in time we find ourselves in.”

    • The author was Billy Hollis, not me.

    • The only difference I see between ‘Republicans in Charge’ and Democrats is pace, not scale.  And maybe a different set of cronies to funnel money towards.

  • One sliver of hope, Chris Christie was also vague on what he would do when he ran for governor of NJ. I think they believe that’s the best because its safest. Start showing your actual plans and some people freak out. Vague blankness is not real good either though.
    Another problem with 2010 is that the GOP can’t overturn Obamacare. Obama will veto it. So it will just be a lot of sound and fury.

  • There’s hope.  To use baseball parlance, there’s some good prospects coming up from the minors.  There was a post on this blog not too long ago about some of them, such as Gov. Christie.  There’s also Paul Ryan, who say what you want about the merits of his plan, at least he seems to have a plan.

  • I think that the GOP is hoping to regain enough seats that they can block the Obama administration from enacting any more agenda items (or just about anything else) while trying to make the case that they’ll need the White House in 2012 to make any progress.  They’d like to be successful, but not too successful.
    Or, as you said, they will be happy to maintain the status quo, especially if it’s their turn at the trough.

  • First thing, start the process of getting rid of ObamaCare. Sidetrack it. Don’t fund it. Put a knife through its heart.

    Next, don’t help profligate states like California or New York with their fiscal crises. Let them straighten it out themselves.

    Most of what the Republicans will have an opportunity to do is damage control and refuse to bail states and public employee unions out.

    Obama won’t sign legislation that negates his agenda. He’s not likely to become a centrist.

    He’ll turn his attention to areas, like foreign policy, where he can lay in more damage, and veto anything Republicans can get through both houses, which won’t be much.

    And, if anyone thinks that things are going to improve if and when Republicans take over, that’s backwards. Things are likely to get worse. Obama will become instransigent, moody, and more destructive. The Republicans will spend half their time trying to figure out what’s going on.

    That’s because the people who will be elected will still be trying to grasp the situation in the normative terms of American politics. They won’t let themselves look the thing in the eye.

    Two years after that, only God knows what is coming. If Obama runs again, which might not happen, I expect that the cold civil war will have already taken several steps in the direction of hot, especially in cities.

    • De-funding Obamacare is the best we can hope for but that will have zero impact on easing the burden on business. The IRS will come up with the new forms and regulations even if Congress doesn’t give them more money to do it. It is the Law and business’ will have to comply. The tax side of Obamacare will continue even after de-funding.

  • Another voice on this question …

    As a conservative tea party Republican, I am not particularly worried about that eventuality. Despite itself, a majority GOP, driven powerfully by the unambiguous vox populi of such an election, almost certainly would go about trying to repeal Obamacare and put serious, current-fiscal-year spending cuts into place — necessarily including “entitlements.” Republicans would try to reduce some taxes and start serious oversight of federal regulatory intrusions into traditional American freedoms — including a powerful pushback on administration regulatory efforts on climate change, illegal immigration and other left-wing agenda items. With sufficient votes in the Senate, they would block future liberal judicial appointments — from the trial court to the Supreme Court.
    If they didn’t go all-out for such a basic conservative agenda in 2011 after such an election as is possible, Republican Party leaders would know that across the nation, even 50-year party regulars such as I would walk out and seek a third party to carry out the people’s business.

  • You know and I know that the GOP will blow it.

    That said, I understand the strategy – looks like a sure victory ahead (at the least gaining enough seats to get de facto control) and the last thing they want to do is to give the losers er Dems any opening to shift the electoral focus from themselves to the GOP.

    I do wish they’d run on how they plan to govern but I don’t want to kill them for failing until they actually do fail when they regain power. Who knows? Maybe they actually get it right this time (ahahahaha….)

  • I think it is a very uncertain assumption that they even want to get rid of Obamacare even if there wasn’t any negative flak attached to taking away someone’s candy.
    A lot of business interests want socialized healthcare.  They expect to ditch their obligations without replacing the lost benefit with money or a with minimal token compensation.

    • A lot of business interests want socialized healthcare.  They expect to ditch their obligations without replacing the lost benefit with money or a with minimal token compensation.

      This is the strategy of rent seeking, wherein established businesses support government interference in their part of the market in a way which gives them an advantage of competitors (often smaller businesses who cannot bribe politicians with as much campaign contributions, or upstart businesses).  An investment of thousands of dollars can result in millions of dollars of benefits.  To an outsider not paying close attention, the support for legislation and regulation which one would expect to harm their business seems paradoxical.  Even if the government interference reduces their profits, many of them cynically accept this because they realize not playing the lobbyist game means they’re not at the table when the politicians make decisions, and the outcome could be much worse.  (Witness, for example, how Wal-Mart’s attempt to sell discount gas hit roadblocks in states where they had not put in the time and money to buy political influence.)
      When people simplistically assail “big business” for being corrupt and insist that government regulations are the only thing preventing corporations from turning into plundering robber barons, they ignore the fact that, in the largest cases, it is precisely the government involvement which empowers these companies to gain unfair advantages in the marketplace (a monopoly needs government protection or it can’t last).
      So, a large majority of the problems that Democrats blame on “unrestrained free markets” are, in fact, due to government meddling in the market.
      Remember that when our resident “left libertarian” tries to make the case for more government interference in the economy on the grounds that powerful actors in the “private” sector are dangerous and need to be restrained.

  • I expect the public will realize the Republicans have disappointed them after 2012 (perhaps 2010) and that’s when a true 3rd party movement will begin.

    • The existing third parties have little promise.

      And voters will have to see the light to really support free market fiscal sanity. Christie is doing a good job in NJ, but what if he had to tackle SS and Medicare? How would he do it, and retain the required popular support?

  • There are a few Rs who are on target, like Christie and Ryan.

    The real fault lies with voters. Bush and McCain pretty much fall in the ideological middle (except perhaps with respect to immigration). Bush was hated of course, and McCain never really loved. In the case of Bush, the left always hated him because he wasn’t a leftist; the right ended up hating him because he wasn’t a real conservative; the middle ended up hating him because the MSM told them he was an idiot for 8 years.

    Conservatives are the largest political segment in America, but they can’t win by themselves. Moderates are still required, and when you throw in the MSM influence and the hot button social issues it is hard to win with a serious conservative candidate. It all comes down to American voters.

  • “Obama’s hard left ideology will be blunted, and I also prefer divided government to what we have now. But the big goal is reversal, and we’re just not yet in bad enough shape for that to happen. A GOP victory this fall just means a small delaying action against the coming reckoning.” – BH

    Billy is a bit too pessimistic for my taste –  Sure, we don’t know if our injured patient is going to survive. But the wounds will not have a chance to heal unless we first slow or stop the bleeding. Divided Government is a tourniquet. Let’s apply the tourniquet in 2010 by voting Republicans into control of at least one house of congress , then we can focus on curing the patient.