“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president” Mitch McConnell said last year. In other words, defeating Obama in the next election is more important than jobs, the debt, or avoiding another economic meltdown. It is increasingly clear that Republicans don’t want prosperity or even gradual improvement in the economy, because that would help Obama be re-elected. They would rather have disaster if it can be blamed on Obama.
This is the ultimate outrage. Obviously each party will run candidates and try to beat an incumbent of the other party in the next election, but to declare that as the most important goal is a gross perversion of the political system. If something is “most important”, then you spend your time and energy on it and sacrifice other things for it. That is simply unacceptable if you hold an office where you have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect the general welfare of the country. That oath did not say “protect and defend the Republican Party”.
This is not the first time that Republicans have been so myopic as to start believing that they were exclusively qualified to hold high office and so could do “whatever it takes” to prevent the candidate of the other party from possibly winning. One of those times was in 1972 – the Watergate scandal. After it had all come crashing down, former Attorney General John Mitchell admitted, “We thought the danger from the other side was so great that we could not take a chance on them winning.” This kind of thinking is the antithesis of democracy and the Constitution and is what leads to dictatorship.
McConnell and the troop of Tea Party Republicans need to remember that Barack Obama was elected by the citizens of this country, the same as they were. This means that they are under just as much of an obligation to work with him as he is to work with them. If both sides act like the Tea Party fanatics, then you get what we have been seeing – stalemate and dysfunctional government.
And that brings us back to the original point: the Republicans in general appear happy to have dysfunctional government if it will cause Obama to lose the next presidential election, nearly a year and a half away. To describe this with the old cliche, “cutting off your nose to spite your face” would be woefully inadequate. Instead, how about: “Sinking the ship because you don’t like the captain.”
Over the years, I have never been a strict partisan. I have and still do disagree with some of the planks of the traditional Democratic platform. I used to find some things to agree with in the Republicanism of Eisenhower, Goldwater, and Reagan. I have to believe all of those Republican leaders would be turning over in their graves right now if they could see the sorry state their party has come to. They had their political positions, of course, but they accepted the basic premise of representative government that you work with and compromise with the other elected representatives to get the job done, and the job is always to do what is best for the country, not sacrifice it for imagined political gain.