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Republicans Have Shutdown On Good Ideas

Republicans Have Shutdown Of Ideas
Shutting down the government may not be the dumbest thing the Republican Party has ever done.
But it’s definitely in the Top Five.
Honestly, it’s tough to figure out which is most idiotic: the GOP following through on its threat, their thinking that it will benefit them politically, or that its leaders have not learned from history.
In any case, the Republicans just handed a huge victory to their greatest nemesis while making themselves look like the Extreme Party. And what did Obama, who comes out smelling like a rose, have to do to win?  Simply not blink.
About the only silver lining to this debacle is that we will undoubtedly see House Speaker John Boehner cry on TV --- yet again. If nothing else, he has a career ahead of him as a soap opera star.
After the historic 1994 elections, in which Republicans took control of Congress for the first time in 50 years, the GOP was in firm control of the nation’s course.  President Clinton was on the ropes, First Lady Hillary had become the devil incarnate for her strident advocacy of national healthcare, and people held high hopes for Republican stewardship.
So what did the leaders of the “Gingrich Revolution” do with their newfound popularity?
They squandered it by --- yes, you guessed it --- shutting down the government. In the process, they revived Bill Clinton, who masterfully used the White House as a bully pulpit to chastise Republicans for their “irresponsibity”. Because the GOP was unable to articulate a message that would resonate --- or any message, for that matter --- Clinton successfully painted them as sulking crybabies who didn’t play nicely when things didn’t go their way.
Sound familiar?
It’s not very often I agree with President Obama, but he is exactly right when he says, “One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to re-fight the results of an election.”
He’s wrong in that they can’t shut the government down, but oh so right about re-fighting the election results.  And that is precisely what this entire debate should be about, but isn’t.
For those living under a rock, House Republicans have shut down the government because they tied the passage of a budget bill to the partial defunding and delay of Obamacare, the President’s national healthcare policy that is now the law of the land, having passed constitutional muster before the Supreme Court.
The Senate said “no dice” to the House, and there you have it. Shutdown City.
So why would the Republicans do this when they can’t win a showdown with the President and Democratic Senate?  And why would they inadvertently help an unpopular President reeling from Benghazi, Syria, the NSA, IRS and AP scandals, and a still-shaky economy?
Arrogance; aloofness; inside-the-beltway insulation; woefully bad political miscalculation. And outright stupidity.
But the Number One reason? The Republican Party has become bereft of ideas, visionless and lacking a common sense leader smart enough to craft a message, and charismatic enough to articulately deliver it. Like his policies or not, Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, was the last of his Party to have such qualities. And that is why, despite Democratic majorities for most of his eight years, he was able to achieve so many political victories.
But now, the rudderless GOP has become the Party of No, unable to offer solutions, and incapable of articulating what it stands for. It’s never enough just to be against something. Americans, quite reasonably, expect optimism and answers from their leaders, yet the GOP simply continues to bash when it should be advocating.
The results of the GOP’s self-imposed quagmire are on full display. Rather than re-capturing the White House and winning back control of the senate in last year’s elections, the Party imploded.  It’s coronation of the ultra-out-of-touch Mitt Romney, whose “turn it was” (exactly like the selection of Bob Dole and John McCain), along with poorly run senate campaigns, destroyed any hope of success.  All that, lest we forget, at a time with rampant un- and underemployment, rising inflation, exorbitant gas prices, a world on fire (literally), and a President, who, while personally likable, instituted policies such as Obamacare on which a majority disagreed.
It should have been a take-it-to-the-bank gimme that the GOP win at least 50 senate seats, if not 52 0r 53, especially since 21 of 33 seats up for grabs were Democratically held.  But they ended up doing the impossible and lost two. 
And they continue to lose now.
The average American is now saying, “OK. I don’t like Obamacare, but by shutting the government down, you are making me sweat my mortgage, and vastly inconveniencing me for…what exactly? What is your health care plan?  No, Obamacare isn’t great, but neither is the current system.  But I all I see is you trying to block something that is already law. And that’s not good enough.”
Had Republicans enacted free-market healthcare reforms with their historic majorities under George W. Bush, there wouldn’t be Obamacare, and we wouldn’t be in this mess.  And if the Party had stopped obsessing about throwing red meat to the extreme, and ceased promoting hyper-partisanship, they would be in control of the senate --- and in a position to run amendments modifying the parts of Obamacare that truly need changing.
But they didn’t do either.
So instead of continuing with a strategy with which they cannot win, Republicans would be infinitely better served by re-inventing the Party, addressing the nation’s pressing problems with common sense, reasonable solutions, and lose the inflammatory rhetoric.  Do that, and they have a real shot at winning the senate in 2014 --- and the White House two years later. Then, and only then, should they be concerned with the funding and implementation of Obamacare.
As bitter a pill as it would be to swallow, the GOP would gain immense credibility by acknowledging that the Dems won the day in 2012, mainly because the Republican Party took a holiday from being Republican.
The GOP is not healthy now, but shutting the government down to stop Obamacare isn’t the prescription that will make it well. That will only further its deteriorating condition.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. He can be reached at

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