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Commentary: Let’s face it: The GOP is the problem
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Commentary: Let’s face it: The GOP is the problem

The right has a problem. It is not merely a Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy problem. It’s a Republican Party problem. Conservatives will never have leverage to fight the issues that matter in any meaningful way until we find a new home. That is the stone-cold truth.

Before we can move forward, we must face this inconvenient reality.

On Saturday, 82% of Senate Republicans and even 57% of the allegedly more conservative House GOP conference voted to continue funding every single odious Biden administration policy, including destructive inflationary spending, for another seven weeks without anything in return. In doing so, they showed that they fear a temporary partial federal shutdown more than the invasion of our border, crushing inflation and debt, the devastation of our culture, and a government that targets political opponents.

No, a government shutdown has not been “averted,” because we now face the ultimate government shutdown — indefinitely — with no strategy or political vehicle to end it.

Republicans began this year with the most auspicious potential to block Joe Biden’s agenda. They had the twin leverage points of the debt ceiling and the budget deadline, whereby they could have refused to grant Biden any more funding for his harmful policies without serious concessions. In many respects, Republicans had more leverage than ever before because they could theoretically govern with a simple majority in the House while Democrats need 60 votes to use their majority in the Senate. Moreover, unlike during the tenures of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, Democrats are saddled with an unpopular and inarticulate Democrat president who would not be able to command the bully pulpit during a shutdown fight.

So what happened?

Republicans in June gave Biden a blank check for the remainder of his term by suspending the debt ceiling until 2025 — more time than he had asked for. The debt has grown quicker than ever as a result.

The GOP’s final leverage point was the budget, and the intensification of the border invasion gave congressional Republicans the perfect mandate to fight through a government shutdown. Yet with both of these leverage points, Republican leaders showed that there is no degree of danger in which Biden can place this country that would prompt them to engage in brinksmanship. They wouldn’t even go up to the line and allow a lapse in funding at least for Sunday, when most government facilities are closed anyway. They fear one minute of a temporary funding lapse more than they fear crushing inflation, trillions in debt, millions of illegal aliens, and the FBI picking off political opponents.

I shudder to think exactly what it would take to shift Republican leaders’ attention away from the old paradigm. Everything we have been through these past few years was evidently not enough. It’s also shocking how Republicans had no problem shutting down the whole country for months, yet they zealously clamor to avoid one minute of a partial federal furlough over a weekend.

What’s clear is that nothing has changed about this party since the era of Trump began — not among leadership and not among the overwhelming majority of rank-and-file members. If they can’t fight even for a few days into a government shutdown over such popular issues and against such unpopular Democrat opponents, they will never ever fight for us.

We will now suffer through endless inflation, invasion, war on our energy and freedoms, and political persecution with zero backstop in sight. There is quite literally nothing Democrats can do that would elicit a unified, righteous response from the Republican Party. It’s not that they don’t have values — they certainly care deeply about funding Ukrainian oligarchs — it’s just that you and I are not part of their value system.

Not that we can even wait until 2025 to redress the aforementioned crises, but nothing will change then either — even if Republicans win all three branches. With such a maniacal degree of fear of a debt ceiling or budget funding lapse, Republicans will never have leverage to fulfil a single campaign promise, assuming any of those promises are even a little sincere. Democrats will always have enough votes in the Senate to filibuster any GOP budget bill. GOP leaders have made it clear that they will never allow the government to shut down for even one day. By definition, that means Democrats will always win a budget fight 100% of the time.

We need not speculate about the future when in fact this is what occurred when Republicans controlled the trifecta of government with Donald Trump as president, McConnell as Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan as speaker of the House. As I noted earlier this year, Kevin McCarthy was House majority leader and shepherded nearly every budget bill through the floor with more support from Democrats than Republicans. Nothing has changed, and nothing will.

But it’s worse than the political math at the federal level. In more than 20 states, Republicans enjoy control of all three branches with filibuster-proof majorities. Why is it that we can barely find Republicans outside Florida willing to fight on issues such as “green” energy and illegal immigration? They wield dominant majorities — in some states to the point where there aren’t enough Democrats to populate all the committees!

Yet Republicans still betray us. At some point we have to face the music that the obstacle to reform has nothing to do with the media or the Democrats. The Republican Party is the problem.

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