Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

The recent failure of the GOP-controlled House to pass their much-desired "Nuke Obamacare" plan - the thing they CAMPAIGNED ON for 7 straight years - is a sharp contrast to how Democrats created Obamacare in the first place.

Republicans this year brought out a plan (AHCA, or Ryancare, or trumpcare, and also DOA) that was pretty much universally reviled, failed to build consensus, rushed it through committee before their own bean-counters could report on how bad the numbers were (and they still weren't fast enough: the CBO told us the numbers were BAD), lied about the elements of the bill that would harm just about anyone who wasn't rich, and alienated major factions between the Far Right - the Freedom Caucus - and the Center Right - The Tuesday Group, and for the love of God I can't recall ever hearing of them before this week, did I ever blog about them? - to where neither side would come to the bill's rescue.

Democrats brought out their plan in 2009 (PPACA, or ACA, AKA Obamacare) that had enough defenders to make it plausible, worked for nine months or so to build consensus within their own ranks, took time to reach across the aisle to get Republicans on board (and was using a Republican model to base it on!), argued in good faith about the merits between the market-control factions of the Center Left - Blue Dog Democrats - and the Progressive Left seeking massive reforms toward universal healthcare, and only rushed the bill into law when it became clear they were losing the window of opportunity to get ANY healthcare reform passed at all.

As such, we can see a clear difference between the two major parties.

Democrats - since perhaps the FDR era - care more about competency and good governance. That even despite the arguments among their own ranks and the mistrust the Progressive and Centrists have towards each other, they still recognize the need to make things - anything, sometimes - work even if the compromise betrays a core ideal they possess (maybe not one they share, but at least they respect) as long as a majority of their constituency can gain from it. They allowed some dissent with individual Party members but made sure the overall Message was one of "getting it done." They would rather make government work than shut it down or destroy it.

Republicans - over the past 25 years maybe more - care more about winning elections and dominating the news cycle. They plaster over any dissent among the ranks, let the fringe Far Right control the messaging and campaigning to the extent that their Moderates are alienated and abused, and press for an agenda that does not reflect the majority's wants or needs. They shut down government rather than make it work.

Nancy Pelosi, once Speaker during the 2007-2011 years that the Democrats controlled the House, was able to build and maintain her coalition, whipping her party to vote. While she lost a few Dem Congresscritters with certain votes, she didn't lose those coalitions by making enough deals and compromises to placate her party, and got legislation passed during an economic crisis - the Great Recession - that required action be done.

Paul Ryan, current Speaker after his predecessor John Boehner was driven out by the Far Right factions, has done little during his tenure as Speaker. He's tried to placate the Freedom Caucus that drove Boehner to resign, but all that's done is embolden that faction at the expense of the rest of the party. Ryan pushed the AHCA vote not because he was confident it could pass, but because he was trying to force his own party's factions to wilt under the pressure of "getting this done" and concede to his will.

Ryan failed where Pelosi succeeded.

Ryan, like much of the Republican Party he ostensibly leads, does not believe that government can work. As a result, he doesn't work as a leader. Ryan is more Messenger, a wannabe Acolyte preaching the word of Ayn than taking the time to secure deals and compromises.

Republicans - this modern version - don't believe in compromises. As a Party, they make sure they can only do things as a "Majority of the Majority," meaning they cut Democrats out of the loop when it comes to input and when it comes to backing those bills. Anybody who does otherwise - such as Boehner back in 2014(15?) when he needed to break the Majority rule to get a bill passed - isn't in charge as a Republican for much longer. The Republicans' idea of compromise is "Democrats roll over and vote our way no matter what."

So, that's it. Basically, the big difference between Democrats and Republicans:

Democrats do all the work. Republicans do all the blather.

It used to be better than this, back when there were enough Republicans who cared.

Wonder where they got to, before the party died on everybody?

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

Ryan is first and foremost a fraud. Read any of Paul Krugman's writing on that subject. It sort of makes him the perfect leader for the Republicans as they exist right now. They're not so much a political party (as evidenced by the fact that they can't govern, even with control of all three branches of government) as a cult. They have all the defining elements of a cult "a cult is a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices" which tend to form around charismatic founders or leaders and cut themselves off from interaction with larger society.
Historically speaking, woe be it to the cult leader whose cult turns on them, so Ryan and Trump are on dangerous ground as it is.
We continue to treat them as if they were a political party capable of governing the country when it is their turn to do so at our peril.

We Democrats have an opportunity here. We have to rebuild the party, and this presents us with the challenge/opportunity to build it from the ground up with a stronger emphasis on state and local government in time to capitalize on the 2020 census and the subsequent redrawing of the districts. We need to figure out how to not squander the political gift of such an outrageously bad Republican administration the way we did in 2004. I feel like we have a better shot at it this time, partly because the president seems incapable of stopping himself from saying stupid, inflammatory things in public on a daily basis. His attention addiction only fuels our energy and activism, and will serve as a safeguard against burn out and distraction from the job at hand. Hopefully.
It feels sorta weird to write that word, but the truth is I actually am starting to feel (guardedly) hopeful about this.

-Doug in Oakland