The November elections could be watershed. The Republicans have a very good chance of taking the Senate, which would be a complete rejection of the Obama years and set the stage for winning back the Presidency in 2016. Then we could get back to the America we all know and love — the one that Dinesh D’Souza portrays in his brilliant movie (and for which he’ll probably end up going to prison). American politics tends to move back and forth in cycles and this particular one seems to be coming to an end. If Republicans can win back control of the government in 2016, we can revive private enterprise and private initiative, the economy will explode, and the long eight-year nightmare of government growth under Obama will be over.
But all this is going to require some restraint on some GOP members’ worst impulses. The canard of this election — as it has been for the last six years — is that there is nothing wrong with anything Barack Obama does, it’s all a matter of race. “Republicans don’t like being governed by a black man” is the shibboleth. The whole premise is ridiculous, of course, but if Joe Biden can stand in front of crowds shouting the Republicans want to “put you back in chains,” adrenalin will be running high.
The things that Republicans oppose in Obama’s agenda are the same things they’ve been fighting since the days of Mike Dukakis. The GOP opposed government healthcare when it was Bill Clinton’s baby just as much as when Obama managed to shove it through a partisan Congress. But the Democrats will want everyone to ignore all this and make believe the only issue at stake is race. And if Republicans try to personalize the election and concentrate only on attacking Obama, they will play right into the Democrats’ hands. Instead, they should make it an election of issues. Sixty percent of the public wants to build the Keystone Pipeline. Obamacare is in negative territory. No one but the most purblind partisan could believe that what we are experiencing is an “economic recovery.” The economy shrank first quarter this year and the only reason unemployment figures are coming down is that people are giving up looking for work. Obama’s determination to withdraw America from the world stage has opened the door to all kinds of chaos. With Russian rebels shooting down commercial airliners, Iraq falling apart, Israel and Hamas are at each other’s throats, and Mexico making arrangements with Guatemala to insure the safe transit of eight-year-old Guatemalan children to the Great Day Care Center of the North, even some of Obama’s most loyal supporters in the press are beginning to recognize that the man lives in a world of academic rhetoric and is not prepared for the job.
But there is no need to personalize any of this. Let the issues speak for themselves. Americans are ready for a change and Republicans should be ready to offer one. So here’s set of suggestions for preparing for November:
Forget about impeachment! Nothing would ruin the chances of winning back the Senate faster than starting an impeachment process. Don’t even mention the word — forget about it. Sarah Palin may feel she has her finger on the pulse of the nation because a dozen people at a campaign rally last week told her that they want to see the President impeached, but she doesn’t. The vast majority of voters don’t want turmoil and nothing will create turmoil more than an effort to push the President out of office.
Republicans made this same mistake in 1998 in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Thinking they had the country behind them, they started impeachment processes and soon discovered they had accomplished nothing but create a sympathy backlash. In what should have been a Republican years, they became the first out-of-power party to lose seats in a midterm since 1934 and the first to lose in the midst of an incumbent president’s second term since 1822. Need we say more?
Granted, Obama has probably committed impeachable offenses in his high-handed decisions to ignore the constitutional limits of his office. But let John Boehner’s lawsuit against the President handle that. The Supreme Court has already ruled unanimously against Obama’s cat’s-paw tactic of unilaterally declaring Congress to be “in recess” so he could make recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. The same thing will probably happen again. But let the courts handle that. Republicans should concentrate on restoring the country.
It’s the economy, stupid! American drug companies are now buying up foreign firms so they can move their corporate headquarters abroad and not pay out highest-in-the-world corporate taxes. Over $1 trillion in corporate profits is sitting in foreign banks instead of being invested in this country. A record number of people are giving up their American citizenship and moving abroad. Ever the one to embrace coercion, the Senate’s number three ranking Democrat, Chuck Schumer, is casting about for punish these “unpatriotic” deserters. In short, we’re becoming like any old-fashioned Communist country, trying to prevent people from escaping.
Pick almost any economic issue and you will find the majority agreeing with Republicans. Polls have shown the only people opposed to the Keystone Pipeline are Democrats making over $100,000 a year and Democrats with a Ph.D. The EPA is trying to shut down the resource-and-manufacturing-based economy anywhere it tries to pop up its head. They won’t allow gold mining in Alaska. They won’t allow copper mining in Arizona. They’re trying to shut down the entire Midwestern economy by outlawing coal. What this amounts to is nothing less than class warfare, with upper-educated elites of the East and West Coasts (all Democrats) trying to put the blue-collar economy out of business so we can all subsist on new phone apps. There is a huge tidal backlash swelling up against this elitism. Republicans should take advantage!
Pass a substitute for Obamacare. As usual, Republicans tend to get lost in their own echo chamber when the polls show the public rejecting Obamacare. But the rule in politics is “You can’t beat someone with no one” and you can’t beat an unpopular program without offering something to replace it as well. It is absolutely essential that the House pass some kind of comprehensive healthcare reform package by September in order to prove: a) they are not simply the Party of “No” and b) given the opportunity, they can govern.
I won’t go into any great detail here. Suffice to say that John Goodman and Robert Musgrave of the National Center for Policy Analysis have a proposal on the table since the 1990s that is just as good as any. Their approach is:
1. Allow everyone to buy health insurance with tax-free money.
2. Set up Medical Savings Accounts that allow people to put aside the same tax-exempt funds to meet routine medical expenses.
3. Allow insurance companies to sell health insurance across state lines.
The result would be a system in which “you can have the same health insurance that is provided by employers but you don’t have to have a job to get it.”
In short, victory in the Midterm Elections of 2014 is within reach. It is only necessary for Republicans to show that they are not obsessed with personal vendettas but serious about governing the country to win the hearts and minds of voters. Given the state of the country, that would be a welcome relief.