How does one know when a politician isn’t up with the times? I suspect there are a number of devices that get to this metric, but one might be looking for someone harping about the nation being “center-right.”
John McCain, of 2008 “Country First” fame, appeared with Sarah Palin the other day to speak to a crowd of Tea Partiers. While Palin continued to gloss over the constant references to violent acts in her exhortations to Tea Partiers over the past couple days, McCain railed against health insurance reform, vowing a repeal of the newly-passed law.
When McCain spoke, he responded to President Obama’s speech yesterday, in which Obama defied Republicans to campaign on a platform of repealing the health care reform law, in light of the various benefits included within it. “And my attitude is, ‘Go for it,’” Obama said.
McCain declared: “We’re gonna ‘go for it,’ an we’re gonna repeal this bill. We’re gonna stop this spending.”
McCain also said: “Our answer is, yes, we’re gonna ‘go for it,’ and we’re gonna get it, and we’re gonna restore the government back to the people of this country, because this is a right-of-center nation, and this president is governing from the left, and it will not stand.”
When I finish reading that, the question that immediately pops into my head is… “What happens if it does stand?” What happens if people like this health insurance reform, given that a majority of Americans had already liked the bill’s individual previsions or believed they weren’t liberal enough? What happens if the world does not end? More broadly, what happens when the entirety of the nation’s most diverse generation ever comes of age and is largely politically active, expressing its left-leaning viewpoints?
I think this all comes back to many members of the GOP and the conservative fringe being unable to zoom out and view these events over the long-term. We saw this with McCain himself in his poorly-run campaign in 2008 — the difference between tactics and strategy. Yes, Obama faced some trouble with the Rev. Wright controversy, but he gave a forward-looking and eloquent speech that muted much of the criticism. Yes, the McCain campaign was enjoying success in its portrayal of Obama as a celebrity political novice that summer, but because it wasn’t rooted in anything, the McCain camp apparently didn’t think anything of choosing a mayor with frighteningly little experience as their vice presidential nominee. Yes, health insurance reform has had its troubles, and while the GOP was responsible for many of those Democratic struggles, their refusal to do anything other than saying no left them without any input whatsoever. And now, there’s this call for repeal, a move to take away all the benefits given to 32 million people. A conscious choice to choose the student loan industry over young Americans.
As the GOP leans more to the right, its rhetoric closer and closer to a boiling point, it will increasingly place itself in untenable political positions. The GOP chooses to live in the moment, ignoring the political realities around the corner. Contrary to John McCain’s wishes/statements, this is no longer a center-right nation. As the Millennials come of age politically, their size and pro-government/socially liberal positions will tip the country to the left, a la the 1930s.
So, again John — what happens if it does stand? What’s the contingency plan?