Lots of folks across the political spectrum hemmed and hawed at Rush Limbaugh’s statement that he hoped Barack Obama fails. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what Limbaugh says. His ideas for the country are completely different than Obama’s. If Obama fails, Limbaugh looks prescient. If Obama succeeds, Limbaugh looks like a fool. Why back down from ideas you believe in just for the sake of “bipartisanship”? There’s nothing treasonous in wishing the President’s agenda falls flat.
Yes, I’m a moderately liberal Democrat and I’m defending Rush Limbaugh.
Because partisanship works. No, the nasty overwrought accusations of treason, etc. are not good for a democracy. But hardcore partisanship is necessary for our democracy. Our system is built on coalition building, horse trading and ruthless electioneering – all based on a regular two-year cycle of elections. It’s quite simple, really. If you succeed, you get re-elected. If you fail, you get voted out. Elections have consequences.
So count me among those relieved at Barack Obama’s recognition that he did, in fact, win. The American people repudiated the GOP in 2006 and 2008. It’s time for the Democrats to put forth their plans for the economy, health care, national security and social policy. It’s great to get some Republicans – particularly those in vulnerable districts – to come on board.
But there is no reason to water down a bill that Democrats believe in just for the sake of turning a 60% win in the Senate into an 80% win.
So here is my memo to the GOP: Oppose the Obama stimulus and back up an alternative plan based on all sorts of ideological tax cuts. If the economy turns around, the Republicans will continue to lose and the party can start looking inwardly at their own ideology. Eventually they will have to adjust to the new economic reality, just as Democrats did after Carter.
If the economy continues to fail, the Republicans can say, “We told you it would not work.” And thence comes the GOP rebound.
Memo to the Democrats: Put forward the plan that you think will work based on your principles. Make sure you have enough votes to pass it – which should not be difficult. Go on a media blitz to convince the American people that your plan is right. And implement it, regardless of how many Republican join up.
I’m not suggesting that we turn to the Hannitys and Olbermanns alone. Pure partisanship for partisanship sake is worse than annoying and aggravating. It’s ineffective. Bipartisan rhetoric is effective as a partisan tool. Lots of people like the conciliatory tone of Obama. Fine. But don’t cave in on the substance unless it will build the goodwill necessary to pass other legislation later (e.g., tax cuts in the stimulus for votes on EFCA).
Elections have consequences.