Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
We expect that elected representatives from a minority political party will fight for their beliefs. When faced with a pending bill or action that goes against their ideology, we expect them to work hard against it. That's what a “loyal opposition” party does. However, for the past four years, national Republican/Tea Party politicians have crossed the line. With the goal of gaining political advantage, the deeply partisan legislators have taken actions purposely aimed at hurting our country.
On inauguration day for our new President, Barack Obama, a group of 14 highly placed Republican leaders met for four hours. According to Robert Draper's book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, this group consisted of GOP strategist Frank Luntz, Newt Gingrich, seven members of the House (including Paul Ryan), and five Senators. The group pledged to block and sabotage anything proposed by Obama and the Democrats. Their strategy was to not give the President any legislative accomplishments, no matter how much they could help our country. Remember, this was at a time when America and the world were at the edge of an economic abyss. This group would have rather undermined our fragile economy than give Obama (and our country) any successes. They actually wanted the US economy to falter so that Obama would not be reelected.
This unbelievably reckless and selfish strategy is further amplified in the now-infamous quote by Mitch McConnell, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” So, the Senate minority leader thinks that defeating Obama is more important than serving the people. More important than improving the economy. More important than defending the United States.
McConnell wasn't just talking. Obstructionism was indeed the marching order that he gave to his Republican Senate colleagues. During the last four years, there have been a record 243 cloture motions to end Republican Senate filibusters. According to Michael Grunwald’s book, The New New Deal , Joe Biden had early conversations with seven Republican Senators:
Biden says that during the transition, he was warned not to expect any cooperation on many votes. “I spoke to seven different Republican Senators, who said, 'Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything.' " he recalls. His informants said McConnell had demanded unified resistance. “The way it was characterized to me was: ' For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back.' “
That is not just Joe Biden's take. Republican Senators Bob Bennett (UT), Arlen Specter (PA), and George Voinovich (OH) all confirmed having a conversation with the Vice President conveying that message. According to Voinovich, “If he (Obama) was for it, we had to be against it.”
Even before Obama took office, Republican propagandist Rush Limbaugh stated, “I would be honored if the media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.” I might expect such unpatriotic, anti-American sentiments from a blow-hard like Limbaugh, but not from our elected representatives.
I hope that during Obama's second term, the Republicans in the House and Senate will stop their disloyal and destructive partisanship. Maybe they will even work with the President on some issues benefiting the country. Certainly, the ever-hopeful Obama believes that it will happen.
Nancy Pelosi, who works with these people every day, is not so optimistic. In a CNN interview last week, she was asked about Congressional gridlock after an Obama win. "You'll see more of the same. It's really important for the public to know that the Republican obstruction of President Obama's jobs bills and whatever he was advancing, is their agenda.” Further stating “It doesn't change".
The Republican plan of obstruction is apparent to many Americans. In a June 2012 PPP poll, participants were asked “Do you think the Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump start the economy to ensure that Barack Obama is not re-elected, or not?” 49% said that they are stalling efforts, while only 40% said that they are not.
The knee-jerk opposition to all things Obama has earned the GOP a reputation as the “Party of NO!” This obstructionism does not help our country or the people that our elected officials claim to represent. We need a Congress that is willing to work together to solve the daunting problems facing our country, not one in which half its members are leading a cheer for America's failure.
The refusal of the Republican/Tea Party to work with the Democrats on anything led to the old joke:
There was a lunch meeting between John Boehner and President Obama at the White House. After the meal, the two were offered dessert.
Boehner said, “That pie sure looks good! I'll have a piece.”
The President agreed, saying, “Yeah, that pie does look good, I'll have some, too.”
Boehner frowned and quickly responded, “ I don't want any of that %$*(@ pie !”