Our lives seem to consist of the comings and goings of seasons. As we say farewell to the Superbowl and football season, we will soon say hello to March Madness and before you know it, the opening of baseball season. For many in the midwest and east coast the winter season can’t leave soon enough as they shovel snow and skid on the icy roads. As we get older the comings and goings of seasons seems to speed up and we wouldn’t mind them lingering a little longer. Of late, however, the political season seems to be never-ending. There is no lingering between the Presidential election and the off-year election.
The campaigning and positioning seem to be ongoing with, counter attacks and never-ending fund-raising.It isno surprise, then, that the 2014 campaign season is upon us. The first primaries are coming soon and the candidates are staking their positions hoping to attract enough votes to make it into the general election in November. In years past the midterms attracted little attention from most of the electorate. The turnout is traditionally low and the issues are particularly parochial. However, this midterm carries greater weight and may portend the future of the GOP. While most experts expect the GOP to hold onto their majority in the House, the question isn’t about local electoral success, but rather the ability of the GOP to once again become a national party. The redistricting successes of the GOP after the 2010 elections created enough “safe” districts to maintain a majority in the House. However, demographics are turning red states to purple and then blue, and all the redistricting in the world won’t change the national electoral consequences of those realities. Yet the GOP stubbornly holds onto old rants and positions that tend to contract rather than expand its support.
Among those positions the ACA continues to be a primary focus within the GOP as it predictably takes an opportunity to bash the law with the results of the recent CBO report. Among other findings, the report indicates that 2.5 million people will leave the work force over the next 3 years. The reduction, in fact, according to the report is the result of workers feeling the freedom to reduce hours or leave jobs to raise families, retire or start a business on their own. For the first time workers no longer feel locked in to those jobs to hold onto their healthcare. Yet the GOP says that this is proof that the ACA is a “job killer”. We all aware that they have attempted to repeal, alter or defund this law dozens of times to no avail. Another issue entangling the GOP is immigration, as it amplifies the civil war now raging within the GOP. While the Senate has passed a comprehensive law, the House has yet to present a plan. In fact, it appears that this cvil war will prevent the GOP from achieving such legislation, and thus squander any chance to attract an ever growing number of Latino voters. Among the bills long-stalled in the GOP-controlled House was the Farm Bill. It finally passed the House the other day with significant cuts to the Food Stamp program. It will impact on 850,000 recipients of this support by cutting their benefits by some $90 per month. If the GOP had its way, in their original proposal they would have cut this program by 40 rather than 8 billion dollars. Once again, the GOP supports the needs of the 1% and takes away from those who are in the most need of assistance. I find it interesting that many of the states and districts represented by the most extreme anti-government wings of the GOP are the poorest and in the most need of government aid. The intransigence of the GOP with regard to gun control has put it at odds with the prevailing sentiment within our nation, yet they continue to “stick to their guns”. There are many more issues on which the GOP seems stuck on the wrong side of history. To name just a few; equal pay for equal work, marriage equality, reproductive rights, voting rights and tax loopholes for industries that no longer deserve or need them.
The very visible intransigence, belligerence and tone-deafness of the GOP since the election of President Obama in 2008 has been a disservice both to their party members and our nation. It is clear that if they continue to sustain this posture they will shrink to national insignificance. They need to relearn the word “compromise” and rethink their role on the “national stage”. This will require leadership and strength. It is clearly lacking thus far. The big question is whether they will acquire it soon enough to avoid national extinction.