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Just Say Non

May 10, 2009

Monsieur Barnes, the French Cowboy is entirely with you on this:

Improving the party’s image is a worthy cause, but it isn’t what Republicans ought to be emphasizing right now. They have a more important mission: to be the party of no. And not just a party that bucks Obama and Democrats on easy issues like releasing Gitmo terrorists in this country, but one committed to aggressive, attention-grabbing opposition to the entire Obama agenda.

Many Republicans recoil from being combative adversaries of a popular president. They shouldn’t. Opposing Obama across-the-board on his sweeping domestic initiatives makes sense on substance and politics. His policies–on spending, taxes, health care, energy, intervention in the economy, etc.–would change the country in ways most Americans don’t believe in. That’s the substance. And a year or 18 months from now, after those policies have been picked apart and exposed and possibly defeated, the political momentum is likely to have shifted away from Obama and Democrats.

This scenario has occurred time and again. Why do you think Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006 and bolstered their majorities in 2008? It wasn’t because they were more thoughtful, offered compelling alternatives, or had improved their brand. They won because they opposed unpopular policies of President Bush and exploited Republican scandals in Congress. They were highly partisan and not very nice about it.

When your political antagonists are planning to implement bad policies then you have to object. Some Republicans seem to believe that they will win votes by shying away from doing what is their main duty as the opposition party. Of course, offering workable alternatives is always a good idea. But does anyone seriously believe that even if Republicans had crafted the perfect alternative to the so-called stimulus bill that they would’ve been any more successful in influencing the so-called Recovery Act? And those voters who are unhappy with the Democrats’ agenda are to a large degree in favour of less ‘change’, not just ‘different change’. The stimulus bill, the bailouts, the mountain of new debt, the hurried closing of Gitmo, the funding of embryonic stem cell research and abortion ‘aid’, the coming intrusion of government in more areas of life – these are all things about which huge parts of the population feel that they would have preferred to have less of. A ‘party of no’ is the kind of party that would represent those voters just right.

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