For the past couple of years or so, Senator Saxby Chambliss has spoken about bipartisanship, reaching across the aisle, and bridge building with Democrats in trying to govern and get important legislation passed. For this Chambliss has been hammered by tea party members and other conservatives. To these groups it’s all about winning, all about cramming their agendas down the throats of everyone else with no compromise and a take no prisoners attitude. Lots of war metaphors are used to describe the type of legislator these folks want representing them. What is disgusting, though, is the notion that somehow politics and governing is analogous to fighting a war.
The current crop of Republican candidates to replace Chambliss seem to think that they have to take this extremist viewpoint, that if they are perceived as a moderate they don’t have a chance of being elected. Perhaps in Georgia they are right (no pun intended), but at some point that attitude is going to see Georgia and likeminded officials of other states, mostly from the South, marginalized and perceived like the Dixiecrats of old. They’ll make great speeches, talk about how America is on the precipice of being taken over by communists, terrorists, Muslims, or any other group they can use to scare the masses, but you won’t see legislative accomplishments from them. I doubt that I am alone in hearing how frustrated the voters are at the inability of Congress to get anything done, but when these people vote, invariably they elect the same do-nothings.
The Republicans had an opportunity to really make some changes, to do all the things that they now obstruct if any legislator with a D after his name is the one proposing it. In the six years that the Republicans had the White House and both Houses of Congress, we saw no tax reform that would change the current system, no immigration reform, no healthcare reform, and no debt reduction plan---among some of the more important issues. Now that these issues are topical, except for tax reform, not only are the Republicans and Democrats going at each other, there is the internecine squabbling within the Republican Party because some Republicans are perceived as giving in, compromising, selling out, and other pejoratives that are unprintable. In return the voters get sequestration, an absurd way of dealing with budget issues. Don’t forget that in 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell when asked what his legislative priorities were never mentioned a single one of the things on the minds of the American people. He said that his top priority was to unseat Obama in 2012. That’s real statesmanship. That’s really moving the ball downfield.
Phil Gingrey represents the intransigence I am referring to. He has stated that it’s time to “stand our ground”, to have the “courage of conviction”, all tough talk from a guy who begged Rush Limbaugh on his radio show to forgive him for making statements about the Republican Party that offended His Porkulous. And then there was the time after the Sandy Hook shooting that Gingrey made some comments about guns that upset the gun folks, and it took less than a day for him to plead temporary insanity to his constituents for making such foolish comments. In a perverted way I would like to believe that maybe Gingrey really is a compromiser despite his no prisoners approach, and would compromise when his feet are put to the fire. Perhaps Rush Limbaugh can get Gingrey to compromise more frequently than Gingrey thinks he’s capable of doing.
It won’t be long before there may be a government shutdown because of the unwillingness of a significant number of Republicans who want to defund ObamaCare. The only health plan that the Republicans have put on the table is one proposed by Tom Price. And guess what? His bill has almost no support within his own party.
The American people are the losers for the bunch we have elected to serve us in Washington. If only there was a way to have a clean sweep. But snake oil sells, and when you put it to the sound of sweet music, we have no chance.