October 1, 2013 | by Peter Rosenstein
Republicans run amok
John Boehner, Republican Party, Ohio, Republican National Convention, Florida, Tampa, United States House of Representatives, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

Clearly we have a Republican House of Representatives whose leadership has either gone insane, lost the will to lead or found their ability to do so non-existent. Some might suggest the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Republicans lost the battle of the budget in the eyes of the American people despite or because of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) making a spectacle of himself and reinforcing the idea that he is the next Joseph McCarthy. He is smarter than McCarthy but will end up in the dustbin of history having created havoc but accomplished nothing. Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas wrote in the Washington Post, “John Boehner isn’t even trying to pretend his House of Representatives is a sane place anymore.”

After the Senate’s rejection for possibly the 40th time, the House tried to repeal Obamacare, Boehner’s leadership team looked at switching tactics and finding ways to shove their shenanigans down the throats of the American public using the debt ceiling bill as their next vehicle. But the right wing rebelled. According to Klein and Soltas, the House GOP debt limit bill that Boehner first proposed, “Isn’t a serious governing document. It’s not even a plausible opening bid. It’s a cry for help.” They go on to say that the proposed bill included, “In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding a year-long delay of Obamacare, Rep. Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan, the Keystone XL pipeline, more offshore oil drilling, more drilling on federally protected lands, rewriting of ash coal regulations, a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions, more power over the regulatory process in general, reform of the federal employee retirement program, an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget, repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, more means-testing in Medicare, repeal of the Public Health trust fund, and more. It’s tempting to think that this is Boehner teaching his conference a lesson.” They go on to say, “But this is really the conference teaching Boehner a lesson. He had so little support to raise the debt ceiling at all — and so little trust from his members that he had a strategy to maximize their leverage — that this is the bill he had to present. At this point, Boehner either can’t stop them, or he’s too exhausted to try.”

Then over the weekend Republicans pretended they only wanted a delay of one year in Obamacare in order to keep the government open and then in the middle of the night added language that would have allowed an employer or insurance company to opt out of preventive care for women, i.e. birth control.

Tuesday morning, Oct. 1 at 12 a.m., the government officially shut down. No surprise that only 10 percent of the people approve of how Congress is working. Rational people in the Republican Party, and there must be some, must stand up to the right wing and say enough. Boehner should assume the mantle of leadership and regain some respect.

The far right is leading the Republican Party down a path to obscurity.  They have safe congressional seats for a period of time but eventually even voters in those Districts will come to their senses. They will understand they have lost the fight and the presidency for the next decade and states like Virginia will move into the Democratic column.

The leftover moderate Republican leadership should take a page from the Vatican where the Pope recognized you can’t continue to build the church on fringe views and said it is time to get back to its basic mission and stop the focus on contraception, marriage equality and abortion. The mission of Congress is to govern. Some may disagree with Obamacare, marriage equality, immigration reform or a host of other issues, but the country is ready to move forward and unless Republicans want to be left behind they need to move forward too.

The Democratic Party faced the same concerns in the past and found the party locked out of the presidency for years. The left wing believed their issues were more important than forming a consensus. While they haven’t abandoned their views, they have come to understand that you can’t hold the nation hostage to a position that doesn’t have majority support.

The Republican Party will either change or become irrelevant.

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