When a drug addict gives himself an intervention, it usually goes like this: “Okay, I’m totally quitting after this next hit.” And you know what happens next.
A real intervention — like the ones we enjoy on reality TV — involves the people who care about the addict getting together with a professional to force a “bottom” with consequences if the addict will not seek help immediately. The real problem for the GOP is that the only people interested in intervening are also on the junk.
Let’s be honest: The GOP isn’t even at its bottom.
That was 2008.
They lost the presidency and became a nearly insignificant minority in the House and the Senate after the late Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) switched parties. Then, in a mere two years, they won back the House and nearly the Senate. And that victory only fueled their delusion.
Republicans thought they won because people were rejecting “big government,” though they’d also savaged the president for cutting Medicare. But in November of 2010, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent and rising. What Americans were really rejecting was the lingering aftermath of the Bush-era financial crisis — a disaster that King Midas couldn’t have fixed quickly enough.
Still, the GOP took their landslide victory as a sign that their ideas/addiction were working. They just needed to double down, veer to the right, defund Planned Parenthood, demand women have unnecessary ultrasounds, deregulate Wall Street again and repeal Obamacare three dozen times.
And if they were going to nominate an “electable” candidate for president in 2012, they were going to damned well make sure he’d adopted all of their most extreme views before they let him out into the general election.
Now, after the “electable” guy has lost, they attack him for making an excuse that is—like what Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said about pregnancies from rape being a “gift”—the party line inartfully conveyed.
Yes, Mitt Romney said that President Obama only won because he’d been generous with “gifts” to his constituency. What else was Mitt going to tell his donors? “I hired smug fools who only told me I what I wanted to hear”?
But the more “serious” thinkers in the GOP aren’t just distancing themselves from Mitt Romney, they’re digging a little deeper.
“The ground game is really important, and we have to be, I mean we’ve got to give our political organizational activity a very serious… proctology exam,” former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said, during a panel at the Republican Governors Association. “We need to look everywhere.”
This sounds like some sound, healthy thinking. Dig in. Figure it out.
But then he went on to say the Republican Party needs a “brutally honest assessment of everything we did. We need to take everything apart and look at all of it.”
The key word here is “did”—as if the GOP’s tactics were the problem, not their beliefs.
Bobby Jindal told the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” He gave lots of practical advice on what the GOP shouldn’t be: “We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal told Politico. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”
Jindal has a few days sober and suddenly he wants to be the GOP’s sponsor. But the fact is that in the negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff, the GOP is perfectly willing to get rid of loopholes for the rich, as long as we lower their tax rates.
But people — about 6 out of 10 of them, according to the latest polls — want the rich to pay higher tax rates.
Later in the week, Jindal called on the GOP not to demonize people they don’t agree with. But their policies would still criminalize women’s health care choices and prevent adults from choosing who they marry.
Using the law to enforce your prejudices is worse than any nasty rhetoric.
Republicans assume that there must be something wrong with what they way they are saying what they believe. The actual sickness is their beliefs.
On 60 Minutes, Mitt Romney was asked what the big idea of his presidency would be. His answer? “Freedom.”
Mitt, your big presidential idea is “freedom”? Don’t you think Abraham Lincoln kind of nailed that one?
But let him explain. “I want to restore the kind of freedom that has always driven America’s economy.”
Oh, that kind of freedom. The kind that sounds good, but it also led to the financial crisis we’re still clawing out of.
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm knows exactly what’s wrong with the GOP’s version of freedom. “The Republicans are for free enterprise, but not free people,” she said. “And that is their fundamental problem.”
They worry about “uncertainty” businesses feel, but not the uncertainty of a single mother who can’t afford health insurance for her child with a pre-existing condition. They worry about a business’ freedom to escape red tape, but not a citizen’s ability to vote without undue burdens. They worry about the burden a business faces by having to insure its workers, but not the burden a woman faces when she cannot make her own health care decisions.
Basically, their empathy for the powerful and the incorporated does not extend to the vulnerable.
Republicans need an intervention, and it needs to come from someone who doesn’t have a trickle-down contact high. It needs to come from someone who says, “It doesn’t matter what you say if your policies ultimately betray that you simply don’t trust people.”
Or they can sit around and wait for the economy to get as bad as it was in 2010. But that won’t happen — unless we’re dumb enough to let another Bush into the White House for eight years.