Major “news stories” have concluded that the Republican brand and the tea party were the big losers in the recent government shutdown. None lay blame on President Barack Obama, the Democrats or reckless spending.
While polls support this conclusion, the GOP, its new leadership and the limited government platform of the grass-roots tea partyers will ultimately win the day.
The convergence of the budget and debt-ceiling disputes with the muddled launch of the government’s health care exchanges, and the usurpation of GOP leadership by so-called congressional tea partyers, makes the October 2013 story different from past Washington skirmishes.
While most congressional Republicans eventually capitulated in passing the continuing resolution and debt ceiling increase until 2014, a group of young GOP congressmen held firm, informing average voters as never before about the problems with Obamacare and unsustainable national debt.
Newly emerged leaders Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Tim Scott now have the credibility to fill the Republican’s leadership void and orchestrate a much-needed national discourse. They must do so as a cohesive team — rather than becoming self-destructing opponents.
They must reach beyond the GOP base to independent voters and increase the Republicans’ appeal to women, minorities and young voters. The older guard, like House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney, failed miserably in this regard — and must step aside.
They must change the tone of the conversation, avoiding divisive vitriolic personal attacks.
They must unite all Republican candidates against the progressive agenda that erodes individual liberties, spends money we don’t have, and grows big government. Sort of like the tea-party agenda so maligned by Democrats and the mainstream media.
There are several reasons why this message will succeed in 2014 after failing in 2012.
Unlike in 2012, Obamacare implementation will be front and center.
Furthermore, congressional incumbents will be forced to defend their October 2013 votes, while the national debt approaches $18 trillion, the economy and job creation languish, and the false promises of Obamacare are exposed.
Finally, there will be no presidential contest to bring Obama’s voters to the polls. In fact, with the glow of the president’s image diminishing, many Democrats will hide from his coattails in 2014.
The Obamacare individual mandate will be enforced in the shadow of the disastrous website launch.
With businesses exempted until 2015, millions will suffer severe sticker shock checking their options on Obamacare exchanges, finding that the promise to “bend the cost curve down” does not apply to them.
Many will lose their employer-based coverage and be unable to keep their present doctors. Others will be moved to part-time employment.
The promise to preserve today’s quality of care will fall to the reality that Obamacare is predicated on adding 30 million newly insured patients, but no new doctors. Indeed, fewer doctors are accepting even today’s Medicare or Medicaid patients. Seventy percent of current health care providers are considering early retirement.
Privacy concerns will create additional negative reactions. Those on the exchanges will have their health records sent to a centralized federal database.
Republicans will declare they voted against generous health care subsidies for our elected officials. Democrats will be forced to defend this abomination.
Obamacare will bring rationing based on costs and/or patients’ ages. The “death panels” which we were told would never happen are close at hand. The Independent Payment Advisory Board will decide which services to allow or disallow — and for whom.
Republicans can stress that Obamacare means higher insurance costs, higher taxes, long waits for second-class medical care and loss of medical freedom for most Americans. But they must then propose reform, rather than repeal or defunding as a way to hold the House, reclaim the Senate and continue efforts to mitigate these calamities.
While Obama might veto bills passed by a 2014-16 GOP-controlled Congress, a unified GOP could propose abolishing the mandates, legislating instead portability of private insurance throughout life, health care savings accounts and tort reform, leaving coverage of uninsurable individuals to state-run, high-risk insurance pools.
Meanwhile a fresh face and voice will emerge as the GOP’s biggest individual winner. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a quiet, calm, brilliant African-American “outsider,” will unite conservative and moderate Republicans, while appealing to minorities, women and younger voters. Those who might easily marginalize Republicans like Cruz will have far more difficulty combating Carson. To attack him would risk alienating millions who usually vote Democratic.
Carson speaks profoundly about common-sense approaches to health care, fiscal responsibility and restoring traditional American values of opportunity and individual responsibilities. He understands the devastation of America’s inner cities. He calls Obamacare the worst American scourge since slavery. He speaks to ideas, never personally attacking individuals who believe differently.
Unlike some other Republicans, Carson is nontoxic and extremely likable. He is poised to become a much-needed unifying force, reaching beyond the traditional GOP base to end our divided government’s vitriolic dysfunction.
God knows, we the people are longing for such a leader.