I am mad, flaming mad! Question: how is it that you run a negotiation so poorly that you end up with less than you started? Answer: A) you’re the Republican Party; B) you are backed by conservative pundits, talking heads, and media personalities that do a better job rallying for the opposition and running the white flag up the pole: C) all of the above. I’m pretty sure I woke up this past week in Bizarro land. The Republicans went into the government shutdown to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and emerged as a silent partner to the Democrats.
It was obvious from the onset that the Republicans would cave on this, and cave hard, without gaining a thing in the process. The tea leaves (pun intended) were read prior to the shutdown with the conservative sage, Dr. Charles Krauthammer, calling the band of brothers standing against the abomination of the century – the ACA – the “suicide caucus.” The rest of the so called conservative pundits echoed a government funding and debt ceiling strategy of go along to get along. This only done for the lofty goal of winning elections in November, 2014. Obviously, these folks have not learned from the past five years that the Democrat verbal attacks have cemented the perception of the electorate against the Republicans. Their own weak minded perceptions and strategy prevented them from seeing the enlightening results of the government shutdown plan that was emerging.
From the shotgun formation I employed in my armchair during the shutdown, I saw a significant opportunity for the Republican Party to embrace and be proud of the stand they were taking. The opportunity I speak of was the simple reaction to the closed WWII memorial which spread across the nation and produced a glimmer of hope for the return to the founding ideal of a constitutional republic. Across the nation, states were standing up to take responsibility for the shuttered national parks that the Obama Administration wanted to use to inflict pain. Foundations pushed back against this bully Administration and told them that these historical sites are operated by the donations of individuals and not subject to the Administration’s shutdown. Individuals were also ready to pay with their hard earned, and over taxed, money to keep open this nation’s treasures.
And then it was snuffed out. I believe this scared the Republican establishment because big government serves them just as well as the Democrats, despite their rhetoric. Two weeks into the shutdown without so much as a hiccup in services, other than the ACA, everyone other than the ardent left was beginning to see that the federal government could go on a diet. Then, the Republicans caved in and demanded nothing in return after three days of irrational debt ceiling fear mongering.
There was no reason to negotiate on both the debt ceiling and the funding of the government. They were two separate issues and one was going disastrously bad for President Obama and his Democrat allies. The House Republicans should have sent over a well crafted debt servicing bill that increased the debt ceiling. If President Obama did not accept this and defaulted, then it was his choice to default. He would own it because the bill would have given his Treasury the borrowing power it needed to pay the country’s debt obligations and only those obligations. The government shutdown could go on and should have continued because we were seeing what I believe could have been a reemergence of constitutional republic ideals. The states were assuming their intended constitutional privileges in the vacuum of the federal government and individuals were coming forward. The American people were beginning to see that the federal government was indeed too big, at least 15% too big. The Republicans should have been proud to accomplish this and should have embraced it and shouted it for all to hear, but they and the so called conservative pundits could not see this through their dry erase boards and rosy 2014 election glasses.
Alas, the Republicans are poor negotiators, or worse.
That’s where I stand. If I haven’t offended you, then I haven’t tried hard enough.