Hell hath no fury like a party scorned
Nobody likes losing something that they really want, and sometimes they react in ways that are self-destructive. High school guys lose friendships over a girl that both want to take to prom. The unchosen one gets bitter and grows to hate both the guy and the girl even after he no longer cares about prom. Too often, we sabotage those who beat us out of spite to make ourselves feel better, but what happens when something bigger than a friendship is at stake?
Republicans strongly supported John McCain during his run to the White House, but when America chose to dance with Barack Obama, Republicans lost their singular leader who determined priorities and strategy. In the first few weeks of the Obama presidency, conservatives from all over the country gathered in Washington for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to hear their leaders give speeches about how their movement should act without a Republican president and how to win back the American electorate. The CPAC speech that stuck out was Rush Limbaugh’s passionate declaration that he “hopes Obama fails.” At a time when the market was plummeting and unemployment skyrocketing, Obama’s failure would surely lead to more hardship for all Americans regardless of political ideology. Limbaugh’s speech showed that he prefers to play political games than help Americans.
Limbaugh’s principle of opposing Obama even at America’s expense may be acceptable for a radio personality, but Republicans in charge of national policy should care more about America’s success. Republican House leadership put the year’s most important piece of legislation, health care, into the hands of House Minority Whip and 2010 Senate candidate Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and waited for him to unveil the Republican plan. The man who wants to be your senator guaranteed in June that he would provide a bill that “costs less and provides better care for the American people” than Democratic proposals. Representative Blunt’s plan still has not been released.
Rather than coming out with ideas on how to improve the American health care system, the Republicans chose to criticize the various Democratic proposals with lies. They said that the Democratic plans would create death panels and destroy Medicare in hopes that, as Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said, it would “break” President Obama by making health care Obama’s “Waterloo.” Opposing the president on health care went so far that Representative Joe Wilson, R-S.C. broke Congressional rules and heckled the president during his speech to Congress. While opposition is the natural role of the minority party, this should be done with class and constructive ideas in order to produce better outcomes. The Republican Party simply criticizes whatever President Obama and the Democrats attempt rather than countering with ideas which could improve America.
The clearest case of conservative opposition to Obama at America’s expense is conservative reaction to Chicago’s Obama-backed failed Olympic bid. After it was announced that Chicago would not get the $20 billion of business that comes with the Olympics, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity applauded for the simple reason that the failed bid made Obama look bad. They prefer watching Obama fail than seeing the United States gain the business and international prestige that comes along with the Olympics.
The recent announcement that the president won the Nobel Peace Prize also brought out the worst in conservatives. Rather than enjoying the victory as a sign of renewed international respect for America, conservatives have bashed it relentlessly. Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele called the award “meaningless” while Rush Limbaugh called it a “greater embarrassment” for Obama than Chicago’s failed Olympic bid. Having a Nobel Prize-winning president could mean world support for the global war on terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation and climate change, but conservative leaders prefer knocking down the president to fixing important problems.
Republican opposition has been constant since Barack Obama stepped onto the national stage, and makes sense for those who disagree with his proposals. Countering the president on actual issues with conservative ideas would show America what the party stands for. However, Republicans have acted like rejected teenagers as they root against America’s economy, health care system and place as a leader on the world stage. Is this what the Republican Party stands for? Do they hate Barack Obama more than they love America, or are they just out of ideas? If Republicans continue blindly sabotaging the president at America’s expense rather than fixing problems, it may be a while before they dance in the White House again.