Republicans have a problem. A big problem. When government that is supposed to rule by the people, for the people gives the people what they want, how can the party say no?
Despite the conservative rejection of same sex marriage, polls show that the nation’s opinion had shifted well in advance of Friday’s ruling. The same thing is happening with immigration (see: Politicians Lie, So Why Do We Believe This?), the minimum wage, health care, drug laws, and other liberal causes. Public opinion on issues critical to the battle of right vs. left is shifting to the left of center, even though by the people, for the people can mean benefiting only a very small minority.
By the people, for the people gone bad
Republicans are in grave danger of becoming a party of powerless whiners. A slate of presidential possibilities that encompasses every aspect of the conservative spectrum isn’t helping. Democrats are showing solidarity and purpose, backed by a recent series of Obama victories. The GOP doesn’t seem to know what it’s offering.
Same sex marriage is being cheered across the country. Obamacare subsidies are likely here to stay, despite Boehner’s contradictory vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act after last-minute scrambling by his party to figure out what to do about health care tax handouts if the Supreme Court sided with the GOP.
After the ACA decision was handed down, Boehner remarked:
ObamaCare is fundamentally broken, increasing health care costs for millions of Americans. Today’s ruling doesn’t change that fact.1
The ruling doesn’t change the fact that Americans are being persuaded to ask the government to pick up more and more of the tab for their lives. Boehner should have breathed a sigh of relief after the SCOTUS decision because no matter what the GOP had up its sleeve in the event the court said no to Obamacare, it is very difficult to survive taking away what government gives.
For the people means getting what the people want
The uneasy balance between state and federal law has given new life to the idea of government by the people. The people seem to be getting what they think they want, whether we like it or not and regardless of who pays.
Conservative causes are falling one after another. The idea of legal marijuana is spreading after decades of spending on enforcement. Polls show that Americans approve of letting illegals live and work in the U.S., a quandary considering one of the primary liberal objections to Obama’s trade bill was the loss of American jobs (see: Workers Losing Jobs to Democrats, Not Trade). Chicago has followed the trend of other municipalities and will raise its minimum wage on July 1, 2015. Pot laws have already proved that if the people can’t get what they want at the federal level states can take matters into their own hands, another contradiction given that the Federal Government will happily clamp down on state laws the Obama administration objects to, like efforts to reject illegal immigration.
How can the Republican Party keep up with the times?
Republicans can’t have it both ways
Yesterday the president began his Weekly Address by affirming that:
… health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for all.2
Receiving health care is a right and always has been, but federal handouts were not until Thursday. Health and Human Services cheered the Supreme Court decision, but the agency’s press release began by celebrating tax credits, not health care:
Today’s Supreme Court decision confirms that the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits are available to all eligible Americans no matter where they live.3
Speaker Boehner responded with this:
Republicans will continue to listen to American families and work to protect them from the consequences of ObamaCare.3
He didn’t say which families the GOP would be listening to, but if he is talking about the millions who are receiving subsidized health care or Medicaid, he is wasting his time.
Is catastrophe the answer for conservatives?
Health and Human Services claims to be acting on behalf of the people:
I hope that this positive [Obamacare] decision will do what the American people want us to do — focus on the substance and turn to building on the progress we have made.5
When the people are getting what they want somewhere else, what can you sell them? Perhaps catastrophe is the best answer for conservatives. Obama’s home city and state are absolute proof of what happens when the kind of agenda that by the people, for the people can mean is allowed to flourish. Politicians are only too eager to hand out the fruits of our hard labor to entrench themselves, but that only works so long as the money holds out. In Illinois the money is long gone.
When the celebrating over Obama’s health care and same sex marriage victories fades we will still be in debt. Democrats will still be demanding that we spend more than we have on their favorite bottomless pits. Our security will still be jeopardized by the absence of a Middle East strategy, refusal to believe that Islam is not our friend, and lapses by our security agencies.
By the people, for the people may mean too many handouts and too much spending, but when things go bad it also means blame for the decision makers. What the people want may have shifted to the left for now, but we are always just one crisis away from those wants swinging back to the right. No matter what Americans demand of their leaders, we also have a track record of punishing them even if they deliver what we want.