It seems pretty clear that nothing much useful will happen in Washington until the 2012 elections are over. As Senate Leader Mitch McConnell put it so succinctly, Job 1 for the GOP is to make sure Obama is a one-term President. All legislative actions or inactions up to the elections are dedicated to that goal, irrespective of the implications to the economy or the well-being of the country. If you think that’s not how it’s playing out, then… well… you just aren’t paying attention.
But what about after the elections? What happens then? On the Congressional side, probably pretty little. It’s highly unlikely either party will take both a House majority and a Senate super majority such that they hold dominion over the whole of Congress. This means that in any scenario, the GOP may at least continue to be the party of “no” if they so choose.
So it all basically comes down to the race for the White House. Come 2013, either Obama will be a second-term President, or we will experience the administration of Republican President [insert name here]. Clearly, if [insert name here] is elected, then the Congressional GOP will be all about getting things done. But should it be Obama again, will the GOP lessen it’s determination to play for politics rather than in the interest of the country? History would suggest they won’t.
Even though Obama would not be eligible for a third term, a successful second Obama term could reflect well on whatever Democrat runs in 2016. And the GOP will be ever more committed to taking the White House back in 2016. That will be their new Job 1. Recall that the GOP witch hunt against Clinton did not let up during his second term. Hell, they impeached him in the middle of that term.
For all intents and purposes, since the Clinton administration the GOP acts as if they do not acknowledge the legitimacy of a Democratic President. Under Obama, they have taken it to new levels. Rather than simply attacking the man, which was the primary Clinton-era strategy, they now attack the country. The GOP correctly recognizes that the President is held responsible for the well-being of the country, be it good or bad, and they use that to their advantage. They have demonstrated repeatedly they are willing to take the country hostage for political gain.
The 2012 elections will be more of the same. Essentially the message is that we can elect Republicans or we can suffer for four more years, and they will see to that.
This is not an assertion that Democratic policies are good and Republican policies are bad. Nor is this an assertion that Democrats are pure and chaste while Republicans are corrupt and evil.
We operate in a society governed essentially by the cooperation of two parties who compete, but play amicably with each other. In many ways the game is the thing. For the fans, it’s not about who wins or loses, but that the game goes on. Everyone likes to see their team win, but there is still value to the game even in a loss, and there is always the prospect of the next game. But if one team starts playing outside the conventional rules to rig the outcome. If one team starts saying that if they don’t win, then they’ll take their ball and go home. Then the game loses its value… and we all suffer as a result.
We have reached a point where as fans we need to force the teams to start playing by the conventional rules. We must demand that while we expect them to play their hearts out, we ultimately expect them to play for the love of the sport, not simply for victory. Or the alternative may be we need to just dump this sport altogether and start playing a new one.