Beyond the Cusp

February 19, 2014

Political Terms Republicans Should Learn

After watching United States Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, marshal his majority of fellow Republicans to pass in a submissive and orderly fashion a completely clean piece of single item legislation raising the debt ceiling silently complying with the expressed demands of President Obama, we were struck by his complete lack of principles, vapid timidity, absence of cogent leadership and total absence of political gamesmanship. It occurred to us that perhaps Speaker Boehner had forgotten an entire slew of political terminology which any freshman Representative should know before ever arriving in Washington DC. So, in an attempt to provide some useful service, we figured that perhaps a short lesson covering some of the basic but vital terms necessary if the Republican Party ever again seeks to challenge the fates and take on leadership will need to understand.

 

Political Theater. This is the concept where even though you realize that you are facing a situation where any efforts you put forward are completely futile as you are facing a situation where the other party is holding all the cards, and the votes, and have the near total support of the mainstream media, you still make a display giving an accounting of your side of the argument simply to be able to state your principles and have them heard.

 

Principled Stance. This concept is very similar to political theater except on steroids. Here you actually pass legislation which represents your position and refuse to budge from these particular ideals, also known as principles, forcing the other party to make dire predictions and threats before acquiescing and eventually passing the clean bill while stressing that you are doing so solely because you are unable to win this time but promising that should your party ever have the advantage that they will act and enforce these principles you stood on.

 

Playing to You Base. This is a vitally important part of playing the political game where you make at the least a symbolic stand expressing succinctly the positions of you core segment of voters in the society. This does not mean that you only express those principles that play well in your district but more that you play to the core principles that represent the vast majority of your basic supporters on a national level. Doing this gives your mainstay supporters a reason to campaign and vote for your party in upcoming elections, and even more important, prevents the embarrassment of having your core support be so disenchanted that they stay home on election day. This should be something the Republicans are very familiar with and should be doing everything within their power to correct and correct as quickly as possible.

 

Stick to Your Guns. This is a simple concept which entails simply refusing to compromise without making the case and forcing the other party to sweat a little and make a compromise granting you some concessions before you eventually concede. In this way you at least extract a price and have something tangible to show your constituents come election time. Even more important is you establish firmly the difference between your party and the other party which provides the voters with a clear alternative to the current state of things. This is of the utmost importance at times like these where a large segment of the population is desperately seeking somebody to lead the nation in a different direction as there are now.

 

Calculated Risk. This refers to taking the measure of the situation and if there is an opportunity to fulfill the items described thus far, you actually brave the consequences and make your stand holding out from conceding the fight for as long as you are able. This may very well mean that the mainstream media will pillory you for taking this stand but at least they will also need to give you the microphone to speak to the people to explain you reasoning and the position for which you are making a stand. Yes, there are risks but often this will pay off down the road as long as you do not go overboard and completely refuse to address anything at all.

 

Object Lesson. This refers to a very simple and basic action in which you define a concept and then put that concept on display as publically as you are able. By doing so you will have adopted that concept as your own and ownership of popular concepts is a desirable aim. Currently, one such concept is the paying down the debt or, at a minimum, not adding any more to the already almost debilitating national debt. If any concept has found its time, the balanced budget requirement and the passing of a Constitutional Amendment stipulating such as one of the basic requirements demanded of the Federal Government is definitely one of them. Sure there would be the necessity to place a path around this requirement during times of war or other calamities and demanding a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Congress would make only truly serious situations allow for such. 

 

Government Shutdown. By all appearances you act as if allowing, or even forcing, a government shutdown would be the worst possible action ever taken. This may not be actually the case as the American voting public in polling has stated that one of their most important desires is to lower the debt. The majority of American voters has expressed their dissatisfaction with the current direction being taken by the Federal Government in particular and is desperate for an alternative. There is likely no bigger statement to be made than actually forcing the shutdown of the government. Even if you force a prolonged shutdown say six weeks or more, you will actually serve the purpose of allowing the vast majority of Americans to realize how little positive things in their lives owe anything to having the Federal Government fully functioning and this is an object lesson whose time has come.

 

Default on Debt. This is simply a scare term used as a weapon of threat that predicts an overt and outrageous eventuality which, in reality, is technically false. The Federal Government takes in simply on fees, taxes, duty paid on imports, tariffs and sundry other remittances collected daily to pay the necessary required debt payment, which is simply paying the interest on the debt and does nothing to pay down the principle, making an actual default an impossibility. If the Federal Government were forced to shut down, the debt payments would still be possible as the sole individual necessary to make such payment is the Secretary of the Treasury, a person who would not be affected. Even if the President, in order to create the absolutely worst case scenario, were to require his Cabinet members to also not report to work during a shutdown, the President also has the power to make the required debt payments.

 

Framing the Argument. This terminology is also called Framing the Debate and consists of setting the acceptable terms and their meaning such that the ability of the other side to argue their position becomes untenable. The best way to combat this tactic is to take the initiative and get out in front of the debate and defining the terms in a manner supportive of your arguments. One example of this tactic has been the defining illegal immigrants as undocumented workers, poor people leaving a really unfortunate and bad situation who have simply entered the United States illegally in order to find employment and raise their families or persons lacking the proper paperwork. Another use of framing the argument in the immigration reform drive has been the claim that the border can be enforced closing it to illegal smuggling and illegal immigration simply by electronic surveillance and that drones patrolling an area is just as effective, if not more so, than building an actual and real fence. Simply by defining the problem such that the only realistic solution is the one offered by those defining the terminology the debate has been won without really debating a single item allowing the blanket application of one side’s entire set of arguments and solutions.

 

Teachable Moment. This phrase has become one of President Obama’s favorites and has allowed him to set its definition thus far. Even though President Obama has adopted the phrase Teachable Moment does not prevent anybody else from also utilizing it. All this phrase means is that the person or group invoking it believes that the discussion is beyond the common understanding of the general public and they are going to use the situation to define the particulars and implications of the event or item to which they refer. The phrase itself is not a very strong argument as long as somebody contests the definitions assigned by the author using the phrase. Teachable moment is the announcement used by any politician when they wish to frame the debate favorably to their arguments and close down any disagreements or discussions coming from the opposing view.

 

Opposition Party. This refers to the party having the least power. The Senate has the Republican Party in the minority and thus they are the opposition party. The House of Representatives has a majority of Republicans making the Democrats the opposition party for all intents and purposes there. As the Senate and the Presidency are held by Democrats, even with the majority in the House of Representatives, this casts the Republicans as the opposition party. As the opposition party there are some basic guidelines that are required. The most important requirement is for the opposition to offer an alternative view on the most important subjects, legislations and problems facing the public. They are also tasked with presenting opposition, sometimes standing on principles despite the consequences. What they are not supposed to do is simply cave to the demands made by the party holding the majority of the power by utilizing the safeguards placed in the Constitution to curb this exact situation.

 

In the recent debate, or lack thereof, over raising the debt ceiling once again, the Republicans shirked their duties by folding before President Obama and the threats and intimidation of the Democrats allowing for a clean piece of legislation and passing on any attempt to make the Democrats pay a price thus accomplishing at least one small iota of the Republican agenda. The complete capitulation and collapse of the Republicans in the House of Representatives was absolutely one of the most repulsive and appalling acts of cowardice. The pathetic performance by the Republican Representatives was outdone by craven disregard for principles and resorting to the most deceptive of actions by the Republicans in the Senate. The Republican controlled House of Representatives could have very easily forced through legislation which would have required a discussion if nothing else over the concept of giving the entire American public a reprieve from the requirements of Obamacare by including granting a waver as part of raising the debt ceiling. Since President Obama has already granted waivers and stay of execution of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, for both businesses large and small as well as wavers to Administration and Congressional staffers and other favored groups through blatant disregard for the limitations placed on the office of President by the Constitution, the extending of a similar set of waivers for the general public is really not such a revolutionary concept. Demanding that the general public receive equal treatment to that granted to even the largest of corporations would simply be leveling the grounds for enforcement and removing the disparate treatment favoring wealthy corporations over regular citizens by President Obama.

 

Even this lack of will to establish a position by the House of Representative Republicans was not a valid reason for the Republicans in the Senate to deceptively vote for cloture ending debate and then vote against the legislation raising the debt ceiling mostly so they could claim later this year, or whenever they come up for reelection, that they opposed the debt ceiling being raised as demonstrated by their “Nay” vote but betrayed by their cloture to end the sole Republican taking a principled stance, Senator Cruz of Texas. The argument by the Republican leadership in the Senate was that they would have eventually lost anyways, so why resist. The problem with that defeatist argument is that a filibuster supported by the entirety of the Senate Republican would have prevented passage of this legislation. The nuclear option taken by Senate Democrats to permit cloture on a straight up or down vote only applies to confirmations and not to the filibuster of legislation. That means to end debate the Democrats would need to find about a half dozen Republican Senators to vote with them or the filibuster on the legislation would block its passage. Presuming that the Republicans expect to someday actually win elections, particularly the Presidency, they had better first establish a definable difference between themselves and the Democrats. Taking a stance that represents fiscal responsibility would be a very good principle on which to start making your stand. Apparently the Republicans only desire to follow behind the Democrats and take every precaution to prevent making trouble for President Obama or Harry Reid. Perhaps, in reality, there is no opposition party and what we have is two variations of the same party system which leaves the American people without an alternative to the current destructive road on which they are travelling ever faster and faster. The brakes probably could not be applied demanding a price for raising the debt ceiling, but perhaps the foot could have been removed from the accelerator pedal and even maybe the car placed in neutral in preparation for braking in the not too distant future. If such slowing and eventual reversal is not executed soon, then the execution of America and her economy is indubitably assured.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.