"I believe that the will of the people is reflected sooner or later in the will of the government."
So says the only man in America who can make George W. Bush look like a genius — John McCain. The Arizona senator was making a prediction that the Democrats would pay a heavy price for passing government-run health care along purely partisan lines.
If you didn’t know how incompetent McCain is, you’d actually think he makes sense.
But unfortunately for John and his dysfunctional Republican Party, the real message of the health care debate is still lost on them.
After a year of battling on the issue, from the town hall to the halls of Congress, the Republican Party’s leadership —and that term’s a stretch— still can’t figure out why it lost, despite virtually every poll showing a majority of Americans opposed the Democrats’ health care reform plan.
Instead, all its leaders can weakly muster are statements that it will attempt to have the bill declared unconstitutional, and, even better, that the GOP will repeal the bill once it retakes the House and Senate in the November elections.
Well, John, I’ve got news for you:
1) Fat chance of that happening. The Republicans will, in fact, pick up their fair share of seats, as almost always happens for the party not in the White House, but it is an extreme long shot that either chamber will swing back to the GOP.
2) The main reason is because the Republicans haven’t given the American people any reason to vote FOR them. They have become the Party of No, virtually bereft of ideas—-and have precious few leaders who can articulate a vision for the ideas they do have.
3) This is the most important one: The GOP has not yet recognized or even acknowledged its past mistakes — all the ones George Bush and his Republicans made when they controlled the House and Senate by sizable majorities from 2000 to 2006. And as philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them."
Blame for the sake of blame is counterproductive. But casting blame to recognize past failures so that positive results can be achieved is invaluable.
So let’s look at the current Republicans.
Instead of trying to emulate the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan, who achieved tremendous success despite Democrats controlling the House and Senate, they look more like Bush, one of the worst communicators of all time.
It doesn’t matter how noble an idea is; if you cannot explain your position and clearly articulate your vision, you lose. End of story.
Do the Republicans have a health care bill of their own? For all intents and purposes, no. While those "inside the beltway" have seen the GOP’s plan, the American people don’t know one exists. They’re a year late to the party.
In politics, perception is reality, and the reality is that the Republicans are more obstructionist than anything else.
It’s never enough just to be against something. A political party has to stand FOR something.
And this isn’t limited to just health care.
Issue after issue sees the Republicans holding an empty bag.
Despite President Obama’s repeated efforts to find common ground on key issues, which in reality are Republican ideas, the GOP has done nothing but criticize him.
Obama has proposed nuclear power, offshore oil drilling, discretionary spending cuts, and championed accountability in the public schools by supporting the firing of incompetent teachers.
The Republican response?
Nothing. None. Nada.
No bills introduced, no public relations campaign, no message at all.
So for those who long for a Republican takeover of congress —the very same people who blame Obama and the Democrats for all of America’s ills — I say think again. Naiveté isn’t becoming.
For six years, the Republicans had it all. And they squandered it. Instead of showing common sense, consistency, and core values, they abandoned their principles, acted like Democrats, and became part of the corrupt system.
1) Pass their own health care reform package, which would have solved the problem? Obviously not. If they had, we wouldn’t have trillion dollar government heath care now.
2) Control spending? Not even close. It took Bush SEVEN years to veto his first spending bill, and the national debt doubled, to $10 trillion. Oh, and let’s not forget that he inherited budget surpluses.
3) Make the economy-boosting tax cuts permanent? Of course not, and now the country will be hit with a mammoth tax increase in January of next year — when we can least afford it. Here’s the irony: if the Democrats miraculously extend the cuts, they become tax-cutting heroes, and if they don’t, it’s the GOP —by its inaction — that is most responsible for that tax increase.
4) Build a border wall? Nope. Still wide open. The risk of a suitcase nuclear weapon coming across the border is still high, and the nonstop flow of illegal aliens continues to batter our economy and kill American jobs.
5) Open up the Arctic oilfields and initiate offshore oil drilling so that we could become energy independent, thereby reducing our dependency on the volatile Middle East and stop the flow of petrol dollars to terrorist organization? We’re still waiting. And for the record, if Bush had done these things when he had both Republican chambers in his corner and a 90% approval rating after September 11, we wouldn’t have paid $4.50 per gallon in 2008, and we wouldn’t have witnessed countless companies going under— both major factors in Obama’s victory.
Of course, Congress would have had to overturn the oil drilling ban that was in place at the time, which was signed into law by….Bush I. This irony couldn’t have been scripted any better.
McCain was right that the will of the people is reflected in the will of the government. The Democrats’ arrogance caught up with them after 50 years, and the people threw them out in 1994. The Republicans went headstrong down the same road, but it took them only 12 years to lose power.
Here’s the point: The current Republicans don’t realize they’ve done anything wrong, so they’re continuing down the path to oblivion. And the Democrats don’t give a damn about what the American people actually want and need.
So what’s the solution?
It sounds trite, but the American people have to wake up and get involved. Not peripherally, or just when things get tight, but all the time. Yes, it takes a lot of effort, and no, it’s not easy.
But one thing is absolutely certain: this nation is heading directly for the iceberg. It’s not too late to turn the ship around, but it will take uncommon valor and political will. Since no one person or party will fix the problem, we must be diligent in sending the very best we have to Washington —Democrat and Republican — and be prepared for unprecedented belt-tightening and sacrifice. There is no other way.
If not, the ship is going down. And this time, there are no lifeboats.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, "Freindly Fire," hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller "Catastrophe."
Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on the Philadelphia-area talk radio show, Political Talk (WCHE 1520), and makes numerous other television and radio appearances. He can be reached at [email protected]