The vitriol and dismissiveness shown in the wake of Ted Cruz’ filibuster by the DC establishment has been something to see in the last few days. Cruz has been attacked as a fraud, a demagogue, Joe McCarthy, a self-promoter, not a team player and all kinds of other things – and not just by Democrats. Other Republicans have been just as caustic toward Cruz as the Left has.
And the DC establishment Republican crowd assure us that because of the miserable failure the Obamacare rollout has already been, to just stand aside and watch it burn is the easy and smart thing to do. Charles Krauthammer, who seems to have taken over for George Will as the leading opinionmaker among Beltway Republicans, is advising that when your political enemy is strangling himself, don’t help.
That if the GOP does nothing, Obamacare will destroy the Democrats in the 2014 elections and the GOP will inherit the Senate. But following Cruz into a “box canyon” in forcing a government shutdown will cost the party dearly.
This is classic Stupid Party delusion, combined with political sloth and cowardice. And it does real damage.
Yes, the GOP can win the Senate in 2014. Yes, Obamacare will be a major Charlie Foxtrot in its implementation. Yes, the media will attack the party if it provokes a fight over Obamacare in the budget negotiations.
But the single worst problem the Republican Party has in 2014 is that its established Washington elite is not connected to its base voters. The established elite doesn’t even seem to like its voters. And its voters absolutely at this point do not like or trust the elite. The voters believe the elite lack talent, brains, integrity and guts.
The voters believe that the elite of the Republican Party are far more in touch with the elite of the Democrat Party than the regular Republican base.
The voters believe they’ve been sold down the river. They believe the GOP elite are not willing to actually cut the size and scope of the federal government and will not act to do so. They believe the elite are not willing to risk their political positions in order to make the real change they were tasked with accomplishing when elected.
The voters believe the elite are bought and paid for by the same interests who have bought the Harry Reids and Steny Hoyers of the world.
And to shake this belief, which causes a steady leakage of Republican votes both in swing states and in national elections, the elite must show that it is, in fact, committed to the fight.
The attacks on Cruz show that the elite is not committed to that fight.
The voters see that as weakness. They see a president in Barack Obama who can be had, whose performance on the world stage shows he’s made of nothing, and yet Obama can still run rings around the Republican leadership. And they are enraged by this – at least those who haven’t thrown up their hands and declared the country to be finished are enraged.
The voters have had it with weakness.
And so when Cruz speaks on the Senate floor for 21 hours, and walks off the Senate floor looking thoroughly unfazed, and even at the very end is able to deal rhetorical destruction to the likes of Dick Durbin and Harry Reid, the voters see someone with the mettle to lead the party. Regardless of whether Cruz’ strategy to create as much political theater as possible as an indictment of Obamacare ultimately had much merit, Cruz and his assistants in the Tuesday-Wednesday filibuster at least gave Republicans a reason to vote Republican.
Have Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John McCain and Karl Rove given Republicans or conservative independents a reason to vote for the GOP? Has Peter King? Has Joe Scarborough?
Has Charles Krauthammer?
No. They have not.
And this idea that merely standing by the riverside and watching the corpse of Obamacare float by is a dangerous delusion.
Understand this: Obamacare WAS DESIGNED TO FAIL. It is not an accident that the plan is a soup sandwich. Remember that both Obama and Reid are on the record saying not only that they support a single-payer health care system but that Obamacare is in place to pave the way for such a system. Obamacare isn’t intended to provide health care; in fact, a major piece of Obamacare is an expansion of government-run health insurance through Medicaid, and that’s nothing much new.
Obamacare is designed to destroy private health insurance. The rapid increase in insurance rates reflected in the Obamacare exchange prices put forth this week will drive customers away from the market and crash the economic model the exchanges are based on. And with those increased costs, the accelerating destruction of employer-based health insurance will result in untold millions of Americans without insurance coverage.
This is a feature, not a bug. Because the failure of Obamacare will merely embolden the Left to demand a single-payer, socialized system of medicine. And when the private insurance market has collapsed, and there is neither the insurance to cover nor the doctors to treat all of those who need access to the health care system, single-payer will be increasingly seen as the only remaining option.
Those Republicans willing to stand by and watch Obamacare fail will be challenged to replace it, and their failure to provide a panacea from Washington will be painted as “not having any ideas.” And if a Chris Christie or Jeb Bush manages to get elected President in 2016, the collapse of the private health care system which will shortly thereafter ensue is a time bomb designed to insure the GOP is blamed for it and produce a Democrat dedicated to socialized medicine in 2020.
Or if the Democrats win in 2016, the collapse of private health care will mean the conversion to a socialized medical system four years sooner.
The time to fight Obamacare is now. If the GOP and the conservative movement loses the fight this week, then fight again at the next opportunity. And the next. And the next. And the next, until it’s gone.
The Left never accepts defeat. All conservative victories are transitory in their minds. They fought to socialize medicine for 70 years before passing Obamacare, and along the way they were able to socialize medicine for the old (Medicare) and poor (Medicaid) and children (SCHIP). They took their victories in small parts and large, but they never, ever gave up.
The Right, on the other hand, seems perfectly content to allow all progressive victories to be permanent. And the GOP establishment acts as though its charge is to try to slow down the Left’s advances rather than to roll them back.
Well, that might be sufficient for the elite. But for the GOP’s base, it’s no longer satisfactory to, in William F. Buckley’s words, stand athwart history yelling “Stop!” The base believes this permanent leftward march is a myth; that the fall of the Soviet Union and the ongoing, slow-motion collapse of European socialism shows that march to be off a cliff, and that to save America from such a fate the encroachment of government must not just be stopped but reversed.
Obamacare is the perfect example of this difference of opinion. When John McCain assails Ted Cruz for his efforts and justifies his pique by saying that the voters have spoken and Republican surrender on Obamacare is the honorable course, conservative voters scream “Never!” and curse McCain’s name. The voters want Obamacare beaten – and not so its replacement would be a single-payer system.
These differences are becoming irreconcilable, and there will blood on the floor within the party. The GOP’s voters demand their leaders fight, and the elite will be deposed if they refuse.