Thursday, March 25, 2010

The L Word

I have come to the belief that much of the grumbling over the past year in US politics is due to the fact that the Republicans are sore losers.  That's right, they are LOSERS.  They lost the election, and now they lost a major policy battle.  The strange thing is that over the course of time, folks of a certain persuasion have felt entitled to rule and to win.  But rule number one of democracy is that sometimes you lose and you have to accept it. 

Democrats are good losers.  Hell, we are great losers.  We are used to losing elections and getting tossed out of power, losing major policy battles and moving on.  Despite the fact that the Democrats dominated Congress for much of the postwar period, Republicans, perhaps due to 12 years of rule from Reagan to Bush I, have become used to ruling.  The entire Clinton administration seemed to be one big hissy fit because the GOP candidate came in 2nd.  Hey, at least, Bush and then Dole didn't finish third. 

So, now we have some death threats, minor actors of violence and so on in the aftermath of the health care vote.  What these Americans forget is that the Revolution's key slogan was No Taxation Without Representation, not We Must Always Get What We Want.  What the founding folks wanted was Taxation with Representation.  Representation does not mean winning--it means that your views are represented, that folks you vote for are involved in the decision-making process.  Now, if your representatives acted like gamblers and pushed all-in, thinking that they had a winning hand and that the other guy was bluffing and were wrong on both counts, well, either you chose the wrong representatives or they served your poorly.  But the system worked like it was supposed to--there was much discussion, debate and deliberation (the three d's of disapparation) and then a series of votes.  The majority won, pushing forward a bill that actually reflected some very significant compromises.  So much so that a significant hunk of the public's opposition comes from the left. 

So, I just have one message for the opponents of health care reform: suck it up  You lost.  Learn from your mistakes and move on.  Dwelling on the loss will do no one any good (wow, I should learn from my own advice, huh?).  Fighting to repeal is a huge waste of political capital and will surely alienate much of the public even if it pleases a significant hunk of your base.  But if you want to live in loser-ville, then so be it.  You cannot win every time.  This was a huge loss, but you will not be able to recover without accepting it.


Chris C. said...

Eh, again, I take issue with the idea that being a "sore loser" is restricted to the Republican party. After the 2004 election, significant portions of the Democratic party claimed Bush "stole" the election in Ohio. When Harold Ford Jr. lost in 2006 in the TN Senate election, Democrats screamed racism despite polls showing that he ran better than most state Democrats would have. Back during the Bush years, there was plenty of "whining" from the left about Republican initiatives like No Child Left Behind (and still is). Democrats still love to blame any problem with the nation on Bush.

Point is, it's all part of the political showmanship. It's proving to be very ineffective right about now because voters don't really like to hear whiners (though the base of both party loves to dwell on that). Not a very smart long-term strategy, but I bet a lot of GOP members are looking over their shoulders at potential challengers and hope to shore up their right flank as primary season approaches.

Entirely agree with you about the Republicans going all-in on a pretty terrible bet. Seems like their preference point is "100% Obamacare + righteous moral outrage and tea parties" rather than "60-70% Obamacare with lots of stuff we want in it." Or, had they proposed an alternative palatable to the Blue Dogs (similar to what was proposed in 1993-94 to oppose Hillarycare), they might emerged with a major victory. Instead, we're going to get litmus tests of "repeal the bill" that have no chance of succeeding and will make efforts to modify some of these provisions impossible. Blergh.

Steve Saideman said...

Sore loser-dom is in the eye of the beholder and we are all victims of confirmation bias. But I just don't see the venom in the Dems and in the Dem-related media during Bush I or Bush II (until it was earned by revelations about Abu Graib, Katrina, etc).

The animosity towards Clinton from Day 1, perhaps caused by his draft dodging status (widely shared by Republicans, by the way); the birther mythology and now calling Obama a socialist/Nazi/communist; and all the rest are just more intense.

The imagery Republicans and allies have been using have been tapping into violence and a rejection of ordinary politics in ways that are far more disturbing than the occasional conspiracy theorist on the left (9/11 or whatever). Indeed, that is the most problematic part--not just rejecting compromise but seeming to appeal/accept for violence. You had folks in power say relatively apologetic/sympathetic noises for the IRS kamikaze. You have babykiller shouted at one of the most pro-life guys in Congress. Liar shouted at Obama at a State of the Union speech.

This is not a he said, she said thing that the media likes to play out--the Republicans have been taking a far more dangerous line.

Steve Saideman said...

I find Krugman and myself on the same page:
Um, yuck? But then again, the members of the GOP have gone so far off the rails that plenty of folks with differing views can still concur.