YAKIMA, Wash., January 19, 2013 ― The Republican party is in a quandary. While it is true that the party is serving its constituents from the tea party, it’s failing the country.
The Republican Party needs to look at what it’s doing, give it a critical review, and change direction.
The GOP has taken polarizing, hardline positions that make it impossible for members to compromise for the good of the country. Republican leaders in Congress have said they would do whatever it takes to defeat everything and anything President Obama or the Democrats want to accomplish.
While they claim this is what the people want, the facts are most people want compromises that drive the country forward for the benefit of all. This hardline tone may play well locally, but it doesn’t play well across the nation.
Last year, GOP reluctance to compromise on the debt limit ceiling threatened to throw the entire U.S. economy into a tailspin, and S&P reduced our bond rating from triple A. It appears that we will be having the same fight again this year.
Another reduction in our bond rating could result in an increase in our cost of borrowing money. It didn’t happen last time, but repeated reductions will eventually push Treasury interest rates upward. At the very least this damages America’s image, which can have a very real impact on international politics by reducing our credibility as a great economic power.
Another result of the Republican hardline is that public services have been, or soon will be, reduced. In many municipalities across America, cuts are being made in police and fire protection services. To the extent that local governments depend on federal transfers, these local services will suffer.
While Democrats and many Republicans were quick to move on Hurricane Sandy, the Republican leadership was slow to move until Governor Christie gave them a tongue-lashing.
A lot of the people needing help on the eastern seaboard were members of their own party. But House leadership was so hard-nosed about approving any large spending bill that they seemed ready to write-off those hard hit by Sandy.
Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform has not been helpful to the Republican Party. Norquist has acted like a Mafia enforcer to make Republicans to the line on taxes. His organization is so closely allied with the Tea Party that the two groups are almost indistinguishable from one another.
Over the last few years, Republican senators and House members who have voted for any type of tax increase have been confronted with opposition from Americans for Tax Reform in their re-election primaries. In several cases, they have been driven from office.
This strategy may help keep representatives in line with regards to taxes, but in the long run it will damage the Republican Party. There are times when a representative needs to vote in the best interests of the country as a whole, but they are afraid to, fearing Norquist’s retribution.
Vengeance seeking by right-wing groups and the Tea Party does not contribute to the health of our country. The Tea Party may play well at the local level, but not at the national level.
A monstrous problem for the Republican Party today is how it will make up the ground it has lost with such groups as Latinos, young voters and single women. The black vote, usually overwhelmingly Democratic, was almost unanimously so in 2012. Much of this may have been because of Obama, but the Republicans need to realize that black voters also vote the issues.
Latinos, Asian-Americans, Blacks, single women and young voters constitute a power block the Republicans will lose again for good if they can’t figure out where these voters fit into their party. The Republican Party has become too narrow—it needs to expand and move to the middle.
So why does this liberal curmudgeon care if the Republican Party is successful?
Single party domination of our political system is unhealthy for the country and for both parties. Forty years of Congressional domination left the Democrats complacent and corrupt. Republican ascendency since Reagan produced GOP hubris and rigidity.
Our democracy is based on a two party system in which the two sides must be able to argue, debate and compromise, treating each other with respect. From this crucible of deliberations comes progress towards the future and the keeping of the promises to the unborn generations of America.
(Larry Momo writes for both The Washington Times Community Political Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.)
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