Damn! I Wish I Was a Republican

Ted Rall

Maui Time | March 18, 2010
"Damn! I wish I was a man," sang folksinger Cindy Lee Berryhill in the 1980s. Me, I wish I was a Republican.

Conservatives dress frumpy, are all white and bland and suburbany, and don't know much about history. But they have more fun than liberals. They stick together. And they fight for what they believe in (or, more often, they fight against what they're against).

Right-wingers are tough.

Why can't left-wingers be tough? Tough feels right. More importantly, tough works. Tough wins.

So here's a toast: to guts, glory, and the Party of No. May we learn from them.

Consider where the GOP was ages and ages ago—OK, this is almost embarrassing to say—in November 2008. Republicans had lost control of both houses of Congress. Six months later, they were still in trouble, reeling from the defection of Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. The GOP, Jonathan Capehart wrote in The Washington Post, was in crisis. "[It] hasn't coalesced around any ideas that weren't born in the Reagan years. It hasn't been able to muster the kind of galvanizing policy positions that made the Contract with America a rallying point for Republicans to go toe to toe with President Clinton in the 1990s. And it's still in search of a leader...While the party isn't over for Republicans, it's getting there."

What a difference a year of holding firm—and Democratic wankery—makes.

By January 6, 2010, The New York Times reported that Obama and the Democrats were "facing a shifting and perilous political environment that could have big implications for this year's midterm elections and his own agenda."

Healthcare is a lose-lose: If it fails, Obama won't have a single major legislative achievement to his credit by this fall. If it passes, the details Democrats have managed to keep secret—high deductibles, co-pays, mandated payments to private insurers—will cost them in the midterm elections and possibly in 2012.

Dems are also taking hits for the financial bailouts—ironically, since the first round of banker giveaways began under Bush. But Americans have short memories. And no one is buying Obama's argument that 20-plus percent underemployment rate would have been even worse without the bailouts.

Going into the 2010 midterm election season, right-wingers are fired up by the Tea Party and their thinly-disguised contempt for the fact that a black guy is in the White House. Liberals, on the other hand, couldn't possibly be less motivated to serve as the Democratic Party base. They see healthcare as a sellout to insurers, hate the bailouts, and are disgusted by Obama's decision (advertised in 2008, but Americans have short memories, dontcha know) to expand the war against Afghanistan. They won't turn out to vote. As things look now, November 2010 will be a rout.

Capehart was right: the Republicans didn't have any new ideas.

They didn't need any.

Voters who back a losing party are angry. But they are realistic. They know their guys are in the minority. They only expect their representatives to do one thing: obstruct the other party as much as possible.

Which is exactly what the Republicans, led by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, have done. They have driven Democrats crazy.

As The New York Times put it: "Republicans are monolithically against the health care legislation, leaving the president and his party executing parliamentary back flips to get it passed, conservatives revived, liberals wondering what happened."

The "party of no," as liberal commentators slagged the GOP, is unified in its opposition to what it calls big-government, but is in reality opposed to anything the Democrats want. Which is just the way Republican voters like it.

"Their goal," said Senate Democratic whip Richard Durbin of Illinois," is to slow down activity to stop legislation from passing in the belief that this will embolden conservatives in the next election and will deny the president a record of accomplishment."

Is that supposed to be criticism?

Sounds to me like they're making the most of their 41 percent control of the Senate. Sounds to me like they're giving Republican voters a reason to support them.

During the early years of the Bush regime, the Senate was split 50-50. One can't help admire the unity of today's 41-vote minority Republicans to the passive wimpdom of the 50-vote Senate Democrats of 2001-2002. Bush got everything he wanted: his invasion of Afghanistan, legalized torture, Guantánamo, the USA-Patriot Act, tax cuts for the wealthy, the build-up to the Iraq War. Democrats never held as few seats as Republicans hold now—yet they never lifted a finger to slow down Bush's agenda.

Finally, consider the results. Cowardly Bush-era Dems lost seats in 2002 and 2004. Balls-to-the-wall Obama-era Republicans will almost certainly gain in 2010.

What's the point of being a Democrat? When they lose, they let the other side have their way. When they win, they do the same.

Democrats will soon have another chance to redeem themselves—as a minority party.

Damn! I wish I were a Republican.

(Ted Rall is the author, with Pablo G. Callejo, of the graphic memoir "The Year of Loving Dangerously.")


Maui Time

Maui Time Weekly provides insightful analysis and in depth reporting. We believe some issues are so important they require thoughtful consideration. We are not a “paper of record”—a daily journal of government meetings, ribbon-cuttings and corporate announcements. We decide what’s...
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