Stephen Colbert Warns Republicans Not to Fall Into the Trap of Governing

Though the results of the midterm elections were unhappy, there is still some humor to be found: the idea of Republicans and small government is funny. So is the idea that the Republicans have somehow found a mandate in what clearly remains a center-left country, and funniest of all, the plain and simple idea of Republicans governing. I mean, how do you govern when you’ve got no grasp of our shared reality, none at all?

Enter Stephen Colbert, who tells us he is “still riding high from the GOP’s triumph in last week’s midterm election. This means there will be more Republicans than ever making government smaller by working full-time in Washington. In fact, there is only one way to describe this victory.”

That word is “mandate.”

“Yes, it was absolutely a mandate,” said Colbert, “thanks to an historic turnout of just 37 percent of eligible voters, the lowest since 1942.”

The Republicans, he tells us, “have the obligation to enact the agenda of the angriest man in the smallest county. They just need to do one thing…it is time for Republicans to govern.” Before this, he says, “they were just paid extras on C-SPAN.”

Which brings us to Stephen Colbert’s word of the day: “It’s a trap!”

Watch the video courtesy of Comedy Central:

Colbert reminds us of Rush Limbaugh’s infamous claim that “Republicans were not elected to govern. Their one job is to stop Obama.”

But more than simple opposition to Barack Obama’s every action and word, there is the danger inherent in governing. Colbert points to a recent editorial in the National Review, The Governing Trap, which suggested that,

The desire to prove Republicans can govern also makes them hostage to their opponents in the Democratic party and the media. It empowers Senator Harry Reid, whose dethroning was in large measure the point of the election. If Republicans proclaim that they have to govern now that they run Congress, they maximize the incentive for the Democrats to filibuster everything they can — and for President Obama to veto the remainder. Then the Democrats will explain that the Republicans are too extreme to get anything done.

Oh dear, not much incentive there…But as Colbert says, “There is an even more urgent reason to do nothing,” and points again to the National Review:

If voters come to believe that a Republican Congress and a Democratic president are doing a fine job of governing together, why wouldn’t they vote to continue the arrangement in 2016?

“The point is,” says Colbert, “anything, anything the Republicans accomplish at all, no matter how insignificant, could lead to President Hillary Clinton.”

Colbert is going for humor of course, and there are layers to this humor: First, the idea that Republicans might actually govern is the biggest joke of all, outside of the Republican Party itself. And work with the president? When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, they immediately proceeded on the assumption that he must do exactly what they told him to do. How much worse will it be now when they are no longer the opposition party? We’ve already seen their answer to that question.

Colbert points to another humorous passage in the National Review editorial:

A prove-you-can-govern strategy will inevitably divide the party on the same tea-party-vs.-establishment lines that Republicans have just succeeded in overcoming.

Of course, the Republicans did not overcome the Tea Party; they only eliminated the struggle between Tea Party and Establishment by becoming more extreme, which means, really, if anybody won, it was the Tea Party.

Which brings us to Colbert’s analysis of the National Review’s editorial:

I believe, instead of making the mistake of doing things now, the National Review says the GOP should focus on the future by:

‘…building the case for Republican governance after 2016…’


‘…explaining what Republicans…would do if they had the White House.’

Yes! It’s time to show the American people that Republicans are capable of bold, decisive action…sometime later. Then Republicans will be able to take back the White House and when they finally have control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, at last it will be time to govern, is what they want you to think, but that’s just another trap. Because the GOP can’t act until they’ve secured an all-Republican supreme court, 50 Republican governors, 50 Republican state legislatures and an all-Republican prom committee. And even then, even when there are no Democrats left anywhere, they should still not govern because then another Republican could run against them in the primary and they’d be wide-open to attack on their voting record if they had one.

So, as Admiral Ackbar said, governing a trap for Republicans, but one I don’t think we need to worry about them falling into. They haven’t all gathered in Washington to govern, they’ve gathered, as Limbaugh said, to oppose Obama. And being against something has never substituted for an actual policy platform.

Still, as Colbert makes clear, we’ll have plenty of joke material over the next two years.

14 Replies to “Stephen Colbert Warns Republicans Not to Fall Into the Trap of Governing”

  1. Laughing is good for the health, and as George Herbert said, “Living well is the best revenge.” That’s all I’ve got, Reynardine.

  2. Steve Israel turned a 35-seat deficit into a 61-seat deficit.

    All of these [Republican] incumbents represent districts where Obama won in 2008 and/or 2012 but where Israel has refused to back the grassroots local candidate or has frightened off anyone from running against his Republican pals:

    • NJ-02- Frank LoBiondo- D+1
    • MI-06- Fred Upton- R+1
    • WA-08- Dave Reichert- R+1
    • FL-27- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- R+2
    • PA-06- Jim Gerlach- R+2
    • MN-03- Erik Paulsen- R+2
    • PA-07- Pat Meehan- R+2
    • MN-02- John Kline- R+2
    • PA-15- Charlie Dent- R+2
    • MI-08- Mike Rogers- R+2
    • WA-03- Jaime Hererra Buetler- R+2

  3. Continue
    • VA-10- Frank Wolf- R+2
    • CA-25- Buck McKeon- R+3
    • WI-01- Paul Ryan- R+3
    • MI-11- Kerry Bentivolio- R+4
    • IL-06- Peter Roskam- R+4
    • PA-16- Joe Pitts- R+4
    • CA-49- Darrell Issa- R+4
    • IL-16- Adam Kinzinger- R+4
    • MI-03- Justin Amash- R+4
    • MI-04- Dave Camp- R+5

    We only needed 19 to take the house that’s 21 names right there and the leadership failed. Stop blaming voter suppression, gerrymandending , racism and anything else you can think of. Our so called leaders failed us and till we say no more of this chickenshit backscratching we will have no voice

  4. As usual the networks are ignoring another
    remarkable achievement by Obama, an agreement with China to reduce carbon emissions. Now the rethugs cannot use the excuse that if we cut polution the Chinese will still do it!

  5. In an ideal governance there should be check and balance of which if the president is a democrat, the one whom will check him is a republican congress wherein or republican senate, where laws that will be passed is scrutinized before going to senate, and expect a good result, for it will be deliberately spoken in congress and approved by senate before a law should be passed. the president now should think twice of the law that he wants to be passed thinking the congress is not his alliance…. a defense and offense should be presented with facts including the benefits of the people , the pros and cons… the only thing which is negative is deliberation must not take long .. for there will be disagreements but the results will be worth and good if time will be used wisely to pass laws.

  6. The flip side to the republicans’ problem is bad governance, ineffective policy, and legislative dysfunction. If they are unable to shut down all the government agencies they promised their voters, cut welfare, and privatize everything in sight, the cohort of crazy will be out for blood and scalps. This test of the GOP’s shaky cohesion will snap like a rotten rubber band in 2016 if they can’t break everything they touch, because if they can’t deliver the creative destruction they say must occur, they’ll look like they’re so inept, they can’t even stomp an ant hill with any measurable effect.

  7. Unfortunately, reality has struck here in the USA and the Republican Congress does not want to govern. They just want to block anything that this President wants to accomplish not caring about the harm being done to the people they are supposed to be representing. Were it not for this Congress, the US would have come out of the recession much sooner and much more stronger than we are now. This Republican Congress has been disgustingly shameful and utterly incompetent.

  8. House Republicans have just the budget for a new Republican Senate

    House Republican officials said the first budget blueprint of the 114th Congress will not stray far from the plans drafted by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and the departing Budget Committee chairman. Those plans, passed along party lines three times since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, were never going anywhere with the Senate in Democratic hands.
    With this month’s Republican sweep in the midterm elections, the stakes have changed.

    “They’re firing with real budget bullets,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. “Real people will get hurt.” […]

    A quarter of the cuts in the bill would come from programs for the poor. Cuts to Medicaid, food stamps and subsidized insurance premiums under the health care law made up more than a third of the package’s savings.

  9. Bernie Sanders’ conundrum, and ours by the way, which he stated on Chris Hayes. I paraphrase:

    If I run against the billionaires and corporations, I have to figure out how to raise money to compete against them since they will certainly not support me.

    So there we are.

    Think Democrats are going to vote money out of politics? Not a chance.

    It’s getting deep in the good ole U.S. of A. guys.

    Psychopathic, religiously insane, white militias against progressives and eco-system.

    We need to know what side Democratic politicians will choose, because they cannot have it both ways anymore.

    Even if they were to all choose our side, we still have to fight the oligarchy which for some weird reason doesn’t seem to care about life on earth beyond their own lives.

    Didn’t matter as much before industrialization, now it does, a-lot.

    I have no idea what the solutions are. Used to think I did, but not anymore.

    Mad Max meet George Orwell I guess.

  10. Republicans are incapable of good governance because they only represent the failed policies of the past (corporate tyranny, trickle down economics, deliberately sabotaging and trying to kill good programs, etc.). If the govt is like a business, the new board of directors is full of wackos that want to gut and sell off the company bit by bit. We’re in trouble. Fight back against their assault on the future.

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