John Boehner said that yesterday's vote represents "a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government, a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people."
In the months leading up to the election, we've been bombarded with the message that Democrats in Washington have been ignoring "we the people." The Tea Party, which is really just a branch of the Republican Party, in particular has tried to warp reality with this message. The message is based on the obnoxious assumption that those who deliver it speak for Americans in general. And I'm not sure that that assumption has ever been correct. Consider the following post at Andrew Sullivan's blog, which I quote in full:
"A convenient Tea Party mantra has been the presumptuous, and seemingly amnesiac notion that President Obama 'betrayed the American people,' that 'We the People have spoken and never wanted Obama’s policies.' ... To trumpet this narrative makes conservatives seem like sore losers in denial, and to threaten a 'second revolution' with upside-down flags as a reaction to losing a fair election speaks more about a general bitterness towards the electoral process itself which is inconsistent with our supposedly superlative support for the constitution," - Christian Hartsock, Big Journalism.
Amen. I have one loyal and valuable reader who keeps going nuts about the health insurance bill being rammed down the throats of the country.
But Obama explicitly campaigned on it; it was never hidden; he didn't change it significantly from his final campaign message (although he opposed mandates in the primaries). It was fought over in the presidential debates. And he won the election by a landslide on that platform. And he passed it after months of Congressional wrangling. There was nothing faintly wrong or treacherous or deceptive about any of it.
By all means, oppose it. But quit complaining there was something dictatorial or undemocratic about its passage.And that's not the only problem with Republican messaging. While Republicans claim that the wave that swept Democrats into power was somehow not representative of the electorate, the latest wave magically is!
Mitch McConnell said, "What we've heard loud and clear from the American people tonight: too much spending, too much debt, too many Washington takeovers. What we’re sensing tonight is a huge case of buyer’s remorse all across America. They told us to change this government" (emphasis mine).
It's not clear that Republicans have a mandate, since their Pledge to America is so vague and contradicts what they've been campaigning on in important ways. (In "The GOP's Incredible Shrinking Boehner," William Saletan explains why the Pledge and speeches by the new House speaker are so vacuous.) For example, if they're serious about deficit reduction, then why do they insist on making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent? Why end TARP, a program put in place by a Republican administration, when it is now expected to turn a small profit? What spending cuts will they make to balance the budget? No one knows. Real deficit hawks, those Republicans.
As usual, Republicans do not deal in smart policy, principle, or facts: they deal in spin. As Sullivan puts it, "the GOP's greatest problem right now is that they have lost interest in policy - hence their running on ideological abstractions rather than actual proposals."
In two years, we can ask ourselves a question first asked by Alaska's former chief moron Sarah Palin: How's that hopey, changey stuff working out?