As voting starts, it’s safe to say the signs aren’t good for the Democratic party, or for any meaningful progress towards significant, national solutions to immediate dangers. Although we style our congressional representatives and senators “lawmakers,” and “legislators,” the swath of Republicans set to be elected to both houses today show no interest in playing either part. Achievements, after all, are a liability; but so long as they’re never acted on, principles make great rally signs!
In fact, if one were to discern any cogent Republican agenda going forwards, it’s one most likely to either stall out the legislative branch, or repeat the Reagan performance of slashing income without coordinate cuts to expenses. In other words, disaster, even for businesses. Against such peril, what is there to do?
We have to settle in, and fight Fabian’s war. The time for ambitious advances is over (if it ever started). Health care reform was neither our Waterloo, nor our Cannae, but another push for another reformist goal, even if diluted beyond recognition (as all others have been), would be just that. We need to settle in and exploit our advantages. Those are, that the Republican Party has:
Since Obama is viewed as more likely to prevent gridlock than Congressional Republicans,
- Everything to lose.
By pledging to repeal health care reform and arrest the deficit, the Republicans have energized their base, but oversold any mandate they can possibly acquire. It’s the same mistake we made. Consequentially, the ability and right to rule shifts, tomorrow, in appearance at least (and that’s what matters) to the opposition. We have only one play: occupy the center. Given the current state of affairs, the Republicans cannot possibly (and, tellingly, have not tried to) move from their fringe positions. If Obama is the first to go to Speaker Boehner (ugh), and the first to suggest high-level, public cooperation, when he’s denied, as he will be, the game changes, and the 2012 season begins.
It’s times like these that democracy becomes its own enemy. An educated, aware, rational citizenry is hard to create, nearly impossible to maintain, and it is precisely that rare good that we lack today, and that compels these outcomes. All we can do is settle down, play defensively, let the opposition self-destruct, and remember Lincoln’s words:
From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic giant step o’er the Earth, and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia . . . could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River, or set a track on the Blue Ridge, though the trial last a thousand years.
No: if destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.