No Grounds for Compromise

"Bipartisanship" usually means "what the Left wants."

As happens every time Republicans win any power, America's leftist airwaves are filled with calls for a new bipartisanship.  When Harry Reid was master of the Senate, he gleefully rammed things through with utter disregard for longstanding procedures or the protests of Republicans.  Now that he can't do this anymore - the Republicans control the House - well, now he wants to work with his opponents:

"It's important we realize we have some work to do," Reid said on CNN's "American Morning." "... We need to stop using words like 'chastened' and I think what we have to do is recognize that all of us, all of us who are going to be in Senate, have to work together. That's the message from the American people.

"We must work together, and I am looking forward to that. ... I think this is a time we need to set aside our speeches and start rolling up our sleeves and have a little sweat on our brow."

Really, Harry?  There is work to do now?  With millions out of work and our economy at a standstill, maybe, just maybe, something should be done?  Then why on earth didn't you think of that before, back when you could do whatever you liked?

The American people did not send dozens of new Republicans to Washington because they wanted more of what we've been getting the last two years, as represented by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.  They voted for change because they wanted something different.

To the extent that the Republicans accommodate Harry Reid, to that extent they will be repudiated two years hence.

Complete Opposites

But, pollsters say, Americans want and expect the two parties to work together; they are sick and tired of partisan rancor and attack ads.  Shouldn't the Republicans at least try?

In theory, yes they should.  The problem is this: what, exactly, is the compromise being expected?

For example, the Tea Parties are demanding a drastic shrinking in the size of government.  Not a mere reduction in the rate of growth; not merely lower taxes; but actual slashing and burning.  We've previously looked at some deeply scary numbers that underscore how dire our national financial situation is.  Yet the Dems talk only of still more and more spending as if the Chinese will happily loan us whatever we please forever more.

So the "compromising" that the Democrats and their media allies have in mind is more a question of whether we should drive off the cliff at 60mph (as they want) or 30mph (as the Republicans would compromise to).  Wrong answer!  We should reverse course and slash spending enough that we don't drive off the cliff at all.

The Democrats want compromise?  Then how about this one: We want to get rid of the Departments of Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services - but we'll let you keep NPR.  Now that is a compromise - really we ought to get rid of NPR along with the rest, but at least we'd be moving the ball in the right direction.

In your dreams, you say, and you're probably right, but that's merely because the Republicans have so long forgotten what they are supposed to be doing.

Republicans were not elected to slow down the rate of growth of government, although that is all every Republican president since WWII has managed to accomplish.  They were, and are, elected to cut the size of government.  There is room to negotiate on exactly what gets cut, and how much, but there is no room to compromise on the very existence of deep and harsh cuts.

Republicans were not elected to slow down the growth of government regulation.  They were elected to eliminate bureaucracies and tear apart the red tape that prevents us from getting anything done.

There is room to compromise here, too - perhaps not every last bureaucrat needs to be fired tomorrow, and possibly some Federal regulations are actually a good idea, maybe, but again, the Federal Register as a whole must start shrinking fast.

Pulling Together, Rightly

Are there opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to work together?  That's a good question, but it is for the Democrats to answer, not the Republicans.  As we've pointed out before, a war isn't over until the loser admits it's over.  Having lost, it's for the Democrats to admit they lost and move on.

After Bill Clinton's Democrats lost the House in 1994, he started triangulating and wound up approving some conservative improvements to the system.  Clinton signed the Republican's welfare reform bill, which cut government spending and improved the lives of poor people.  That was an area where, apparently, Democrats and Republicans could work together, but the overall result was a victory of conservative principle.

Will Barack Obama do the same?  He has in the past supported the idea of school vouchers, but reversed himself as soon as his union owners showed up with a billion-dollar check to help out his campaign.  Perhaps there's a way to eliminate the Department of Education, saving vast sums, but to apply some portion of the savings to a national voucher program for students in failing schools.  Working together with President Obama on this issue would be a very worthy compromise for which America should reward the Republicans.

Mr. Obama's well aware of the harm done by affirmative action; once upon a time, he argued that America needed to move past the history of color.  Ending affirmative action would be common ground the Republicans would be happy to stand upon, and there has never been a president better suited than Mr. Obama to accomplish the end of government-sponsored racism for once and for all.

Even in the area of big business, there's room for common ground.  Thus far, Mr. Obama has governed as a near-Marxist, making it clear that big business is the enemy of the people.  No ideology could be worse or more delusional for a free capitalist society, which is why our economy is at a standstill; but there are legitimate problems with corporate governance that ought to be addressed.  Allowing fraud-infested banks to be terminated and shut down would be a blow against banksters, a victory for law and order, and a triumph for ordinary Americans who truly were defrauded by shady practices, but not a bailout for imprudent borrowers as so many liberal Democrats have wanted.

The incoming Speaker of the House, John Boehner, made a good start to laying down the ground rules:

We hope President Obama will now respect the will of the people, change course, and commit to making the changes they are demanding. To the extent he is willing to do this, we are ready to work with him.

But make no mistake, the president will find in our new majority the voice of the American people as they’ve expressed it tonight: standing on principle, checking Washington’s power, and leading the drive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government.

Spot on, John: it is not for the victors to move towards the vanquished, but the opposite.

Two years ago, Obama said "I won," demanded that everything be done his way, and received what he admitted was a "shellacking."

If Republicans, having been gifted with historic but unearned victories, do not hold firm on their principles, the electoral consequences in two years will be every bit as devastating as this year's were for the Democrats.

If they hold firm, they'll give Mr. Obama another coat of shellac two years from now.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
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