The fight against Obamacare is over….for now. The battle was lost when Harry Reid and the Senatestripped out the provisions to defund Obamacare late last month in the budget bill. Instead of accepting the expected defeat and proposing a more limited proposal to deal with the debt and entitlements in general, a divided Republican caucus continued to attack Obamacare, even when it was clear there was going to be no split in Democratic ranks or budging on Obamacare. The Federal government then shutdown and as of now, the Republican Party is emerging as the clearest loser in this fight. The Democrats had a very strong hand in this fight and they knew it, which is why they wanted a shutdown fight. Republicans, under pressure from the Tea Party and the emerging liberty movement, marched off to fight with no clear strategy and a terrible ability to communicate with average Americans. These two factors have contributed to the defeat of the GOP in this latest crisis. It is not enough to just go off and fight, there must be a plan and a path to victory, which was sadly missing from the beginning of the “defund Obamacare” fight.
Both the GOP establishment and the Tea Party have failed both the party and more importantly, failed the country in this shutdown fight. There was no reason to give the Democrats the shutdown they wanted. For most of the year, there has been the absence of a plan to deal with the looming budget deadline. In March, the House passed a budget written by Paul Ryan, which was defeated by the Senate. A couple days later, the Senate finally passed a budget that raised taxes by $1 trillion and cut virtually nothing. However, Republicans have refused to go to conference committee to iron out a compromise until Thursday. The GOP leadership wanted to try and force further concessions on Democrats with the backdrop of a shutdown and a debt limit increase, however they couldn’t decide what they wanted. Into this void filed Senator Ted Cruz and the Tea Party’s “defund Obamacare” movement. Even though Cruz himself said in July that he did not have the votes to defund Obamacare, the GOP at the last minute embraced it to try and force a one-year delay of the invidual mandate, or the requirement to pay a fine if you do not have plan that meet’s Obamacare’s requirements. However, Democrats dug in, sensing weakness in the GOP. It does not matter what those of us who live and breathe politics everyday think who is responsible for this mess, it matters what average Americans think. The GOP’s approval rating stands at an abysmal 28% according to Gallup. The failure to have a clear, achievable goal or a strategy to achieve it has led to the GOP picking futile, unwinnable fights and looking bad while doing it.
I am not saying let’s not ever try to repeal Obamacare; indeed we should. It is an awful law that is wrecking the American economy. However, I am simply saying that there is nothing feasible that we can do right now, unless we can win elections. One of the things we need to do is make the Democrats own their “accomplishment” in 2014 and 2016. The Republican Study Committee has released an alternative to Obamacare that is a good starting point to run on. President Obama’s approval rating has dropped down to 37%. Here is an opportunity to make Barack Obama as much of albatross to Democrats as George W. Bush was to Republicans in 2006 and 2008.
To do this, we must have a clear vision for liberty, an ability to communicate those beliefs to the average American, and more importantly a strategy to win. While we do need to have the conversation about the direction of our party, we shouldn’t be trying to destroy each other (looking at you Mitch McConnell, FreedomWorks, and Senate Conservatives Fund) like we would the Democrats. Ultimately, most of our readers would agree that a President Chris Christie would be far preferable to a President Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren. Yes, we need to have our primaries and we need to have a full, lively debate, but we also need to unify and have a strategy to win in 2014 and 2016.
Most importantly we need to remember that the Republican Party is not the best means to take power and roll back decades of statism, it’s just the most practical and the only effective means.