Governance means to direct the making and administration of public policy for the good of a nation and its citizens. In a government with a two-party system it is crucial for each side to compromise and find agreement through communication and mutual acceptance of terms that often involves slight variations from each party’s original goal. The Founding Fathers intended for the new American government to function on compromise to represent and serve the people, and the process worked fairly well for nearly 233 years until Americans elected an African American President. Republicans met in private on Inauguration night 2009 and plotted to stop governance even if the new President proposed legislation they advocated, and for two years they opposed any and every attempt by the new President to govern and save the economy regardless the dire consequences to the people. The Republicans all but guaranteed their drive to bring government to a grinding halt would succeed in 2010 when Democratic voters handed an extremist conservative sect control of the House and several state governments and, for all intents and purposes, America’s government ceased to function as the Founding Fathers intended.
Perhaps it is unfair to claim Republicans and their extremist facilitators want government to cease functioning because they have been open in their demand that either they control the government unilaterally or there will be no governance. This “our way or no way” mindset came to the fore last Friday when a cabal of 20 teabagger groups sent a letter to Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander demanding he retire. The teabaggers are livid that, as a fairly moderate Republican, Alexander comprehends the Founders intent to compromise with the opposition was crucial to successfully governing the nation to meet the needs of the people. By now, there are few Americans who believe Republicans and their teabagger cabal have any intention of meeting the needs of the people as evidenced by the frequency of their drastic cuts and legislation aimed at taking what little assets and protections the people have earned.
The teabagger cabal wrote that, “Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America needs policymakers who will not work with those who are actively undermining conservative values.” Simple translation; either extremists control the government or government ceases to function. The idea that compromise and bipartisanship are unacceptable regardless the cost to the nation and the people is the definition of dictatorial tyranny and is the sole reason Washington has ceased to function as the Founding Fathers envisioned. In fact, the Founders devised America’s form of government to guarantee that future generations would never live under a tyrannical monarchy, and although teabaggers and Republicans are not royalty, their idea of governance is an extremist version of fascism.
There are myriad pundits who claim the lack of compromise and bipartisanship, particularly in the House, is down to Speaker John Boehner’s non-existent leadership coupled with fear of the extremist teabaggers. However, the policies the extremist wing of the party advocates are favorite Republican issues. For example, Republicans have long-condemned assistance to Americans unable to put food on the table due to their job-killing agenda and opposition to livable wages, and coupled with a recent Fox News propaganda film portraying recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as moochers justifies their Draconian cuts to food stamps. Last month when Democrats in the House refused to make drastic cuts to SNAP, extremists simply refused to fund the program they regarded as extraneous or simply put, unnecessary. What is astonishing is the people most likely to need food stamps in heavily Republican Southern states are Fox News viewers and support their Republican and teabagger representatives actively working to keep them hungry and undernourished. It is noteworthy that in the Senate, although Democrats opposed cutting any funding from SNAP in the farm bill, they compromised with Republicans and passed the bill with cuts to SNAP only to see the House extremists eliminate food stamp funding.
There are myriad examples of the neo-conservatives’ opposition to compromise and bipartisanship in the House, and to a lesser degree in the Senate, and it is why governance is impossible. The Republican unwillingness to govern has not gone unobserved by some reasonable conservatives and a reliable Republican voting bloc; senior citizens. Political scholar Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute has been an outspoken critic of the current iteration of the Republican Party, and wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed titled “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem” that the GOP’s rejection of compromise and bipartisanship prevents the government from functioning for the people.
The outright rejection of compromise cost Americans a million jobs and the government $19 billion during the debt limit crisis in 2011 that also set the harsh 10-year sequester in motion, and the same extremists are ramping up to sabotage the government again. There are new threats to shut down government and jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States unless Democrats and President Obama acquiesce to Republican rule and abolish the health law. Republicans who once understood that good governance is dependent on compromise and bipartisanship were complicit in ruling by threat and hostage taking in 2011, and as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said; if the President and Democrats do not let Republicans dictate policy without compromise “he could imagine doing this again,” and “promised they will do so.”
Any American paying attention to Republican politics understands they have no intention governing according to the Founding Fathers vision, and Charles Chamberlain, the executive director of Democracy for America, noted the teabagger’s rejection of compromise is the “major difference between the two sides of the spectrum and it’s a great example of why the Tea Party can’t govern.” However, Chamberlain misses the point that teabaggers and Republicans do not want to govern; they want to rule. He is right that “the reality of governing is that to create good policy that represents the values of all Americans compromise and bipartisanship are what makes that happen” and “that this is government, this is how it works,” but it is 2013 and extremist conservatives will either govern by edict or government will not work.
Republicans are able to continue bringing governance to a halt because their staunchest supporters are easily manipulated by fear-mongering and misinformation campaigns. When Republican voters do pay attention and learn they support conservative policies adversely affecting them a common response is “if you Dems weren’t supportive of taking away law abiding citizens right to weapons, you have MY vote,” and it brings to mind a comment then-Senator Barack Obama said in 2008. Obama said that some Americans are bitter and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” and Republicans play on those frustrations to garner electoral support for their no-compromise style of rule. Regardless of poll after poll revealing that Americans expect and demand their representatives in Washington to govern by compromise, Republicans reject conciliation with impunity because they hammer their constituents with threats that Obama is coming for their guns and abolishing their religious liberties.
America’s government worked well for over two-hundred years based on compromise, but like democracy, government as a means of setting public policy is failing due to Republican’s intent to rule unilaterally. To strengthen their grip on power, seize absolute control, and govern by edict, Republican-controlled states are eliminating the people’s right to vote that was their only means of sending representatives to Washington who will compromise. The government has been ineffective for the past two-and-a-half years because right-wing extremists refuse to compromise, and now that teabaggers put down in writing their belief that “our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship,” it is time to admit that for all intents and purposes democracy is nearly dead and America is in the grip of right-wing tyrants.