I was watching commentary on the NFL Network yesterday about the firing of Philadelphia head coach Any Reid. There has been a great deal of talk about how the players quit on Reid; how they did not buy into his “system”; how they did not even bother to “show up” for the team’s final game Sunday against the New York Giants.
And it got me thinking: this is exactly how the Republican Party has responded to America. They have quit on America. They’re putting forth no effort, and most importantly at all, they haven’t even bothered to show up for the past two years. This is certainly true of John Boehner’s House of Representatives, which has spent the years since the 2010 Midterms passing needless bills to fix problems that don’t exist (like eating fetuses).
But when it comes to governing America, the Republicans have quit on us. You could say that Barack Obama, to continue the football metaphor, is the head coach. We, the American people, are the fans, and this, the United States of America is the City of Philadelphia. And as a further stain on their honor, the Republican Party has lacked anyone man enough, like Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, or Jeremy Maclin, to stand up and call out their “teammates” for their failings.
Michael Vick called a team meeting and tried to rally the troops, but he said that he wasn’t going to try to tell a grown man what to do. There is no Republican who will do even that much. They’re all ex-Republicans, like former Florida governor Charlie Crist, who recently announced he is a Democrat, or David Frum, who now considers himself a centrist (his group No Labels pretty much says it all). There is no room in the Republican Party for people who actually take their responsibility to govern America seriously.
Andy Reid ended up being fired for the failures of his team. No doubt he was not without responsibility. The leader always ultimately bears responsibility for what happens on his watch. President Obama has accepted responsibility on a number of occasions, unlike his Republican predecessor. No doubt Republicans would enjoy it if their gutlessness also contributed to the downfall of our “coach.” They fantasize it openly; it’s hardly a secret: impeach him. Failing that, throw him in prison the minute his term is up.
They never wanted him. They never bought into his system: that America is governed from the middle, through compromise. Nor even the American system: that elected officials are elected to serve the American people and not corporations or rich contributors; in a representative form of democracy, to represent those people in the halls of power where most of us cannot tread. To be our voice.
The problem for the GOP is that they are not our voice. The lost control of the Senate in 2006 and three elections later they have yet to show any signs of regaining it. Their hold on the House continues only thanks to some timely redistricting and even then, they lost a little of their mojo. A Democrat hasLO won the presidential election twice in a row by a sizeable margin – the only Democratic president since FDR (another Democrat) to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote twice.
The Republicans responded in 2008 by pretending they had won the presidential election. it is no surprise that in 2012 they responded the same way, saying, “Okay, now we have that out of the way, here is how we are going to run the country…” WRONG. Obama won by a sizable margin in 2008. There can be no debate on his mandate then or on his mandate now.
In 2012, President Obama won Florida by 750,000 votes. How many was it again that Bush won by? Yeah, I think you get the picture. Obama’s margin of victory over Mitt Romney was over 3 million votes. Republicans insisted that Bush, with much less impressive victories, had a mandate, but they say Obama just squeaked by, Haley Barbour even ludicrously insisting that the election was “pretty close to a tie.”
You don’t need further proof than that to see that the Republican Party and its ideological core, the Tea Party and the so-called Religious Right, have failed to be team players. Not only do they deny Obama twice before the cock crows, but they proclaim at the outset their intention to detach themselves from the governing process that is itself a mandate of the American political system established by the United States Constitution.
We vote and elect: they govern.
Instead, they said their only goal was to make President Obama a one-term president, that they would do everything they could to derail his administration. They kept their word. For two years. Then four. Now that Obama’s mandate has been renewed by the American people, the Republicans have taken the same tack: they refuse to participate in our participatory system of government.
We could ask why, in a country where power derives from the people, this has been allowed to continue. Why haven’t the people spoken and put an end to this? By and large, we have spoken. We re-elected President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. We elected Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth and other notable women. We elected a more diverse Senate than has ever existed in an America the GOP with ever increasing shrillness insists must be white, Christian, and male.
Redistricting kept that message at arm’s length from House Republicans, who steadfastly refuse to look facts in the eye, the facts about support for marriage equality; the facts about support for abortion and contraception; the facts about support for equal pay for women; the facts about anthropogenic global warming and its effects (e.g. Hurricane Sandy); the facts about America’s evolving ethnic and religious landscape.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) admitted in August, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” But nobody (including Graham to himself) was listening in 2012. The Republican strategy for 2014 and 2016 is to double down on the very positions rejected by an overwhelming number of voters in 2012.
It is inescapable. The Republican Party has not only refused to participate in governing America, but they have refused to participate in our shared reality. Look at their Party Platform. At a time when the fastest growing belief system in America is non-belief, they give us a Party Platform written by religious extremists.
They have quit on America. They have quit on reality.
It wasn’t a happy fit. Nor was it a congenial parting. Look what happened to Richard Mourdock, or to Todd Akin, or to Scott Brown, or to Sharron Angle before them, and others. If you refuse to share our reality, we don’t have much use for you.
Redistricting saved the GOP from being absolutely shut out of the halls of power in 2012, but that’s just an unhappy coincidence. It won’t save them in 2014. Every year, America becomes more socially liberal than the year before, which leaves the Republican Party pissing off increasing numbers of Americans, which translates into fewer Republican votes.
The Republicans have quit on America, and Americans are beginning to notice. I don’t think the Republicans will like it when we get angry.
Happy New Year, my fellow angry Americans. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. We have some trash to take out.