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It Does Not Make Sense For Republicans To Give Away Core Beliefs

Republicans in Congress have little reason to negotiate in the current stimulus debate. The way the stimulus bill uses large sums of taxpayer dollars to fund new programs and expand the role of government is directly against the core principles of the Republican Party. Republicans may well be right to guess that the provision of health care benefits to unemployed people that is part of the House version of the bill, is a pathway to government-sponsored universal care. This is not something Republicans are eager to see. 

That the Republican view of limited government and tax cuts for the rich has been proven wrong by our current economic mess is not the point. This is so even if the good of the nation should come before failed ideology. Reduced to an ineffective minority in the House, and barely holding on to 40 seats in the Senate, Republicans have few options. They can offer opposition, or they can melt away completely during the Obama years by going along with the proposals of the White House and the Congressional majority.

What is the point of being a Republican if you give away your core beliefs? Republicans look back to Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidency and see that hard as they try, and even given a number of successful attacks, they still can’t undo the New Deal after 75 years. Many aspects of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society remain in place after 40 years.  Why would they back another wave of government expansion?

This is the main reason why President Obama can’t make much bipartisan headway on the stimulus bill. He’s asking Republicans to give away the farm for little in return. Republicans can’t “out-government” Democrats.  Why would they even try? I’m sure Republicans in Congress and their core voters do not feel any need for a second Democratic Party.

Maybe it serves President Obama’s political intrests to reach out to Republicans. It’s possible that as we go along he may be able to pick off a few Senate Republicans for his initiatives. If this turns out to be the case than maybe the nation as a whole will gain. 

But what we can’t have is wasting this fleeting period of Democratic Party ascendancy during a time of economic crisis in order to try and reach people who can’t be reached. Now is the time for an aggressive push to expand the role of government in our economic life, and to move towards universal health care. 

After years of economic and moral stagnation under the winner-take-all philosophies of Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush and many others, we cannot blow this chance to help remake America as a more fair and just nation.

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Politics | , , , , , | 3 Comments