What’s the Point of the Republican Party?

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (AP)

Capitulating to Democratic pressure appears to be the new modus operandi of the Republican Party.  For evidence, look no further than Tuesday’s last-minute fiscal cliff deal, which was nothing short of a Republican Waterloo as the GOP waved the white flag at President Obama.

This outright display of surrender begs an important question – if submission is the new GOP norm, then what’s the point of the Republican Party?

In theory, conservative values are central to the GOP – lower taxes and less spending.  In practice, higher taxes and more spending appear to be the order of the day.

Where are we as a party when the Republican-controlled House votes to raise taxes on 77.1 percent of U.S. households?  When several of our party’s so-called “fiscal hawks” agree to a deal that would cause our debt to climb $4 trillion in ten years?  When Speaker John Boehner pushes a plan with a 41-to-1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts?

What a sad state of affairs when the Republican Party relents on the very principles they were founded upon.

To make matters worse, GOP lawmakers foolishly prearranged the circumstances for their own surrender. In August of last year, the final debt ceiling compromise included automatic 2013 spending cuts conceived as a means of forcing Obama’s hand on deficit reduction.  In reality, Republicans only served to punt the football and, in doing so, they allowed Obama to resist spending cuts when he was most vulnerable.

Believing that our spender-in-chief and his Democratic cohorts would ever accept meaningful spending cuts down the road, when they would have no political interest in doing so, was nothing more than a childish dream. Instead, Republicans were left with a combustible scenario – the prospect of devastating defense cuts coupled with expiring Bush tax cuts on all Americans.

It is pivotal, both for the long-term success of the party and the betterment of the nation, that Republicans change course immediately. Eighty-five House Republicans, including the Speaker of the House, should never have capitulated to the Democrats.

I have a difficult time believing that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats would have done likewise had the roles been reversed.

As we approach our nation’s debt ceiling, Republicans face a crucial battle in the coming weeks. They, undoubtedly, will incur immense pressure from Obama to surrender once again.

Rather than acting like another arm of the Democratic Party, as the Republican House did Tuesday evening, they must stand for conservative principles and force the president’s hand on our out-of-control entitlement spending.

We have four years left of President Obama, and there are very few moments when Republicans will have enough leverage to do anything at all. It’s time Republicans stand their ground or they might as well just caucus with the Democrats.