The Republicans are back. For the newly elected it is like being a teenager. One moment they are in a new school and trying to impress the older kids, the next they are rebelling against the adults who ‘just don’t understand them’. The adults are either running scared or playing a cunning waiting game, only time will tell. (I suspect that the allure of incumbency will seduce the new kids and blunt their enthusiasms – as it has for every newcomer. Most politicians exchange advocacy for expediency.)
But new or old the hypocrisy remains the same.
- We are going to balance the budget by extending the tax cuts for the rich (while waffling on the promised cuts).
- We are going to treat the Constitution as the core foundation for law by ripping up the 14th Amendment.
- We are going to bring transparency to the process by holding our strategy sessions in private.
- We are going to enhance our populist credibility by asking lobbyists to run our operations and ease our transitions.
- Having accused the Democrats of hyper partisanship we are going to investigate the sh*t out of “the most corrupt administration ever”.
The Republicans in the minority were the party of ‘No’. With their new majority in the house they are still the party of ‘No’. For all the sweeping rhetoric they still have no ideas. The rallying call of the election was ‘A Pledge to America’ ; a document that has all the glitz and substance of a 1930s musical. This plan was, in fact, so devoid of any actionable tactics it didn’t even make it to election day.
It is often tempting to romanticize some idealised past, to which we can return, if only people would just calm down and grow up. But the reality is that politics is an ugly business that brings out the baser instincts in people and has done so since the dawn of the Republic. Even the US Constitution was forged in a furnace of incivility, rancor, pettiness and petulance. But as Hope was the salve for all the Evils that escaped Pandora’s Box, it was Compromise that gave us the Constitution. It is hard to imagine that the Republican freshmen will learn that lesson from the Sacred Document, but we can always hope.