Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Future For The GOP: Civil War And Universal Solvents

Contrary to the fervent hopes of some on the far right, most people on the progressive left weren't devastated or wanting to throw themselves off of buildings after Tuesday's losses. In fact, 94% of the progressive candidates running in Tuesday's election survived - while only 47% of the so-called "Blue Dog" Democrats did.

President Obama, in his first post-election press conference, also made it clear that he's NOT going to abandon his progressive principles to get things accomplished over the next two years. He may actually take a more firm stand on those accomplishments he's already completed. The President very pointedly made it clear in that press conference that Republicans no longer have the luxury of sitting back and saying "no" to everything; now they actually have to bring legitimate, workable ideas to the table.

That's where the GOP's "universal solvent" problem comes in.

Headline tea party candidates like Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, and Carl Paladino all lost on Tuesday, some of them quite soundly. Tea Party candidates, in general, also got shellacked. Commentator and blogger Sarah Palin's record of endorsed candidate wins was around .500 - a good number for a baseball player, but abysmal for politics. Yet the mythology being ramped up, post-election, by many on the right is that the tea party is some kind of political "universal solvent", good for dissolving any opposition in it's way.

The problem with a universal solvent, as the saying goes, is if it eats its way through everything, how does one contain it?

This is the problem facing Rep. John Boehner and other Republican leaders as they've already been receiving veiled - and not so veiled - messages from tea partiers and others on the extreme political right. The tea partiers insist there should be NO compromise on ANYTHING with the President or Democrats - but they expect results IMMEDIATELY.

The issue of raising the Federal Government's debt ceiling, then, is the point at which that universal solvent eats through the floor, on its way to the center of Earth, and total annihilation.

The issue of raising the debt ceiling is simple and has ALWAYS passed in every previous U.S. Congress. In short, the Federal government MUST continue to raise the debt ceiling nearly every year. If it doesn't and the U.S. Government defaults on its debt, not only will the U.S. economy collapse. It will do so in such a spectacular way that it will take the entire rest of the world's economies with it.

Unlike when President Obama and Congress passed and signed the stimulus into law in near record time, when the clock strikes midnight on the agreement to extend the debt ceiling, there will be no last-minute rescuing anyone. If the GOP does not agree to extend that debt ceiling before the deadline expires, political skirmishes will be the least of our concerns.

Extending our debt ceiling, of course, is something tea partiers have already said they're not willing to do - even if some the old-guard Senators who have attempted to lead them have already agreed to cave to reality.

So if you know a progressive or someone who you're pretty sure who votes Democratic? That smile on their face isn't because they don't know they lost more than a few races on Tuesday.

It's because they're not John Boehner or anyone else in the Republican leadership.

As an old teacher we once knew used to tell her students right before a grueling exam, "Good luck - and have fun!"

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