2010-03-26 / Editorial/Opinion

Did Republicans Shoot Themselves In The Foot?

There is something to be said for a political body acting as a ‘loyal opposition,” pushing its own ideas and forcing reconciliation and compromise on the party in power. There is nothing to be said for obstructionism, of moving completely out of the political maelstrom, standing on the sidelines, and trying to destroy the party in power. That is what happened with this week’s vote on health care reform, a vital issue that focused on the millions of Americans who have no health insurance, no safety net, and who too often must choose between paying food or rent, or going to a doctor, or getting vital prescription medicine. In the cold calculus of power, there were no pluses for the Republicans to get involved. They had no reason to compromise. The Republican leadership believes that the best strategy to recapture the Senate and House of Representatives in November is to force President Obama to fail. To do that, they had to make his health care plan fail, or at least convince voters that the final plan is so onerous that they would turn Obama’s successful health care vote into a defeat. The plan passed without a single Republican vote. The Republicans have now vowed to take the fight to the death in the Senate over the “fix it” bill passed in the House to change some provisions of the act that House Democrats demanded. We believe the Republican leadership may have shot themselves in the foot, however, not just because recent polls show that Americans are becoming more favorable of the health care plan as they become more knowledgeable about its provisions, but also because they may have underestimated the American people and their dislike for politicians in general. When a Republican Congressman called the leading opponent of abortion rights in the nation a “baby killer,” every American, whether for or against the health care reform bill, cringed. That is not the way we want our politicians to act, and the Republican may well have stepped over the line on health care.

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