National Commentary

The Republican Meltdown

bentonmugWow. Just wow. “Meltdown” has become an overworked term in recent years, but if it’s ever lived up to its dramatic intended meaning, it did describing the rug-chewing behavior of the Republican and other stooges of the health care industry in the wake of Sunday’s historic vote for fundamental health care reform.

bentonmugWow. Just wow. “Meltdown” has become an overworked term in recent years, but if it’s ever lived up to its dramatic intended meaning, it did describing the rug-chewing behavior of the Republican and other stooges of the health care industry in the wake of Sunday’s historic vote for fundamental health care reform.

From Republican John Boehner’s strained declaration that passage of health care reform would introduce “Armageddon,” to Karl Rove’s downright spooky, rabid performance on a Sunday morning talk show last weekend and death threats, bigoted epithets in the halls of the Capital, groundless lawsuits and an array of tantrums, including a childish boycott of Congressional business after 2 p.m., the GOP and its allies are reinforcing the growing sentiment in the nation that they’re not only on the wrong side of history, but irresponsible in the extreme, and entirely unfit to govern.

None of the top leaders of the GOP are willing to disassociate with the racially-tinged Tea Party movement, despite the thuggish and borderline criminal tactics it has either adopted or set loose on society. In like manner, none of the GOP elected representatives in Congress, either in the House or Senate, was willing to put reason, common sense and individual judgment ahead of a lemming-like stampede into the dustbin of history in last weekend’s vote. Not a single Republican either reputiated the Tea Baggers, or voted for health care reform.

Overnight, the enormous risks involved in taking such a uniform, lock-stepped approach have proven potentially fatal to the GOP and its rabble. Upon passage of the bill Sunday night, the mood of the nation shifted dramatically, with a Gallup poll showing suddenly a wide margin of the public in favor of the new law. Moreover, the grass roots movement that swept President Obama into office in 2008 has been fully re-energized.

The last time the Republican Party became so rabid in opposition to a sorely-needed social policy, its opposition translated into a subsequent 17 years out of power. Much of the same type of rhetoric used against health care reform last weekend was used in a futile effort to derail Social Security in 1935. As a result, the GOP didn’t get close to the White House until 1952.

Something similar is now going to happen again. The fear tactics and intimidation that has accompanied the GOP’s mindless, cult-like block voting, lying and exaggerated claims are going to be defused the same way that your common school-ground bully can collapse to tears and whimpers when someone actually stands up to him.

The sweeping and tangible, practical benefits that are now available to the American people with the president’s signing into law of the legislation Tuesday has, predictably, been received immediately as a source of great relief to millions.

In the current recession, the added worry associated with losing insurance through losing a job or incurring a major illness has been relieved. The prospect of a child being unable to find work after high school or college, and thereby unable to obtain health insurance, has been removed as a cause of anxiety and fear.

In reality, this health care reform places beneath the vast majority of Americans a vital social safety net, something that, as with Social Security and Medicare, no American would voluntarily relinquish once available.

Contrarily, every Republican in Congress decided to align with the health care industry against this enormous benefit to the American people, and to align with the Tea Party and similar shock troops mobilized by the Dick Armey’s Freedom Works and other paid tools of the health care industry, against civility, itself.

The result is that the GOP has moved so far to the lunatic fringe, that the Democratic Party is relieved of the need to move more to the middle. It will find itself empowered by the events culminating in Sunday night’s historic vote to take tougher stands on financial markets reform, job-creating infrastructure development and other important matters.

The GOP’s credibility is shot, and deservedly so for its despicable behavior through this entire ordeal. One wonders if there is anyone among its ranks with the savvy or the guts to break away from its impending free fall.

 


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]