If you are an American, you should be very concerned about the wide divide in Congress which grows wider and wider with every issue. The 113th Congress does not seem to have the chops to do what is required to get the job done on the big issues of the debt, deficit, entitlement, gun control, and tax reform. We all hold out hope that , reason will outweigh political passion, but Democrats can now sit back and enjoy watching the Republican Party unravel in front of the nation’s cameras.
The GOP embarrassed themselves during the first phase of the fiscal cliff negotiations, when the Republican House leadership ceded authority over to the Democratic-led Senate. Now, they have compounded that embarrassment with a series of new mistakes. First, they once again exposed the deep regional fracture in the party over emergency fund relief to the victims of Superstorm Sandy. It was first thought that the 112th Congress was going to close without voting on the aid package to the residents of the Northeast. After Republicans representing that part of the country, led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, attacked House Speaker John Boehner, they quickly rethought that strategy. The final package was approved, but 179 Republicans (and 1 Democrat) voted against the package. This was the first time in history that a federal disaster aid package was held up because of a requirement to identify offsetting spending cuts. And that did not set well with the northeaster Republicans who remembered coming to the support of their southern brethren during recent disasters that hit “red-state country.”
Colin Powell recently took the party to task. In an interview with Meet the Press, he reiterated his thoughts and feelings that there is “a dark vein of intolerance” in the party that is driving its policies and preventing it from representing all Americans. Powell suggested that the party has an “identity problem.” Powell explained that it is the party’s persistent march to the right that has cost them two presidential elections and has them in trouble in America. His recommendation is that the party needs to “take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed.”
Republicans may want to dismiss Powell’s statements and question his GOP credentials, but consider that at the Republican retreat in Williamsburg, Va. one of the breakout sessions was entitled “Discussion on Successful Communication with Minorities and Women.” Guess what the name of the meeting room was – the “Burwell Plantation,” named after a “wealthy family that owned many slaves in 18th century Southern Virginia.” When asked about the irony of meeting in a room named after slave masters to discuss how to communicate to minorities, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) stated, "I don't pick the rooms we meet in.”
At that same meeting, a Republican pollster recommended that members of the party stop discussing rape. Kellyanne Conway, described as a “top GOP pollster,” explained that for the party “rape is a four-letter word.” It is well known that the Republican Party hurt their chances for a Senate majority after the comments made by former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Richard Mourdock, however it was somewhat underreported that Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) — an OB-GYN since 1975 and co-chairman of the House GOP Doctors Caucus — commented that Akin was “partly right” and re-ignited the controversy over “legitimate rape.” Conway’s advice amounts to a “gag order” recommendation, because every time the party talks about rape, someone like Akin, Mourdock, and now Gingrey can’t help but express their true feelings, and that is projected as the position of the party at large.
While the party analysts have told them to stay low on rape, they have raised their head proud by not ratifying the Violence against Women Act and re-introducing the personhood amendment. Regarding women, the party position appears to bethat rape is off-limits as a point of discussion, funding to support relationship violence is off-limits, and abortion needs to be criminalized. Is there any wonder that there are only 23 Republican women in Congress? The party doesn’t need a hard look, they need a microscopic filter.
The NRA has not helped matters with their latest web ad suggesting that President Obama’s children go to a school with armed officers, yet he doesn’t want your children to have the same protection. Of course, the ad ignores the fact that as precious as our children are to us personally, their security is not tied to the security of the nation. Once again, Christie pointed out the error of their ways. “To talk about the president’s children or any public officer’s children who have — not by their own choice, but by requirement — to have protection and to use that somehow to try to make a political point I think is reprehensible.” All we need now is a Republican Congressperson or Senator to pull an “Alex Jones” and announce intent to draw down on the country he/she was elected and sworn to protect.
The Republicans have been replaying in their heads what went wrong in the 2012 election, but they haven’t learned anything. They have the same rhetoric, the same approach to governing, and the same internal problems. They still “blame” America for not choosing them, they still believe the country is divided between Democratic liberal takers and Republican conservative makers, and they have now begun to extend that to millennials, who they view as perennial whiners.
As the party continues to find its legs in the aftermath of the 2012 election, the country hangs in the balance. The debt ceiling talks are coming, and the last time we were here we know that they chose to allow the country’s credit rating to fall rather than negotiate. It may still be too early to predict the demise of the party, but you can see the thread unraveling and you just want to pull it.