Republicans already control both the House and Senate, so by asking the American people to elect a Republican president in 2016, they are essentially asking to be given complete control over the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.
Given the GOP’s performance over the past few years, it seems fair to wonder how it would handle that kind of responsibility and authority, particularly considering the pent-up frustrations of its base. For example, with complete control of Washington, would Republicans attempt to force the mass deportation of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, many of whom have been here for a decade or two or even three? I would like to think that once in power, the party would somehow moderate itself on that issue, but moderation hasn’t exactly been one of its strong points.
Work through the list of issues, and the possibilities don’t get any better:
Would it attempt to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as demanded by its 2012 platform and by many of its presidential candidates?
Would a Republican president, backed by a Republican House and Republican Senate, pick up where President Bush left off by reintroducing U.S. combat forces in the Middle East and launching the kind of concerted, sustained bombing attack on Iran that would be needed to take out its nuclear infrastructure, while preparing for the inevitable backlash?
Would it attempt to address growing income inequity and a sense of royal entitlement on Wall Street by once again cutting taxes on the rich and on corporations while rescinding many of the regulatory reforms passed in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown? After all, every single one of its presidential candidates has announced some variation of that approach as his economic plan.
Based on the party’s rhetoric and track record, the answer to every one of the questions above would arguably be yes. And if that makes voters nervous, it should.
However, if Republican leadership wants to demonstrate to America that the party is still capable of rational, productive policy-making from a conservative point of view, it has the perfect opportunity to do so. If they want to reassure a country nervous about total GOP control that “the party of no” can still reach “yes,” even if only to itself, then this is their opportunity:
Draft, debate and pass an alternative to ObamaCare.
I know, I know: Various Republicans have proposed various ideas that party leaders like to wave around for the TV cameras, but the truth is that a party with a dozen or more different plans for replacing ObamaCare in reality has no plan. How can you ask the rest of the country to take such plans seriously when the Republican House and Republican Senate have chosen to ignore those bills altogether, refusing to give them even the slightest bit of legislative attention or credibility?
If you’re serious, show that you’re serious. If you want to be given control of the entire federal government, begin by showing the ability to make a simple decision. Pick a bill as a starting point — any one of these allegedly brilliant alternatives would do. Hold committee hearings on that bill, then amend and revise it as necessary. Submit it to the Congressional Budget Office — the GOP-controlled CBO — for analysis of its impact on the deficit, economy and health-care options for all Americans.
In short, after five years of empty, non-productive complaining, step up. Act as if you are capable of governance. Act as if you can respond to a need by putting together a logically coherent policy and then building the consensus within your own party to support it. You claim to believe that ObamaCare is an economy-crushing, soul-destroying threat; well, the single best thing that you can do to respond to that threat is to propose a workable alternative.
Because otherwise, American voters are left to reach one of two conclusions: You don’t really believe that ObamaCare is the threat that you claim, or your party’s policy-making apparatus is so atrophied from years of neglect that it is no longer operable.