At the risk of exaggeration, putting us back together might not be possible — at least not with the world standing we have enjoyed since World War II.
Yet, blaming the Republicans for all of this also would be a mistake.
The catalyst for this dilemma has been the ill-advised health care reform act. Not that reforms weren’t needed. But the inexperienced chief executive failed to understand that adopting any legislation without a single vote from the opposing party is not good practice. Democratic congressional leaders rammed the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act down Republicans’ throats, with Barack Obama’s blessing, leaving no room for possible compromise that might have scaled down the sweeping scope of the act and reassured a nervous public. The White House was utterly derelict in its leadership role in this matter, giving its generals on the Hill full rein. The result was an unpopular initiative that remains so.
This, however, is no excuse for what we can expect probably until next year’s midterm elections. If the polls are correct and this long national nightmare continues, the Republicans may find themselves twisting slowly in the wind — to continue the Watergate metaphor. The tea party adherents in the House, elected as the result of anger over Obamacare, don’t seem to understand there are times when the public demands statesmanship. Inflexibility against all odds and reason is a prescription for political disaster.
While a numerical advantage makes it unlikely that Republicans would lose control of the House, GOP viability in the Senate and the White House may be damaged for some time to come. More dangerous for our system is the possibility that a third party — one that splits off the moderates from the radicals — might emerge from this turmoil.
We’ve heard all these dire predictions before in times of stress, but there is no ignoring the evidence of a cataclysmic reaction by Americans and the rest of the world over current lawmakers’ intransigence. Should the fiscal horror that still lurks ahead become more than a specter, a political revolution might be in the offing. We might contemplate taking the stairs or jumping out the window.
Email Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, at email@example.com. Distributed by SHNS at www.shns.com.