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article imageOp-Ed: Can the Tea Party do more than oppose for opposing’s sake?

By Michael Cosgrove     Jan 5, 2011 in Politics
Tea Party Republicans are busy right now basking in the glory of their domination of the House of Representatives, but they will need more than their usual theatrics and posturing if they are to run the House correctly.
Today will see the adoption by the House of a new rule which demands that each bill cites its constitutional basis. Although this kind of flamboyant gesture typical of Tea Party-style politics isn’t going to actually change much it does have the merit of emphasizing yet again the tendency of Tea Party Republicanism to prefer symbolism and obstructionism to pragmatic proposals.
The Republicans have on the whole been relatively willing to turn a blind eye towards Tea Party politics given that Republicans are happy for now to see attention diverted elsewhere as they are themselves mired in some deep soul-and-leader-searching that they would prefer be kept out of the public eye.
To be fair to them though several leading Republicans have condemned some of the excesses such as the adoption of Birther attitudes, blatant racism, the use of slurs against Democrats, vandalism and the depiction of Obama as Hitler.
But now they are running the House they will have to do more than level laughably false allegations about Obama being responsible for the economic mess and the Iraq/Afghan quagmires. After all, both began under Republican national leadership and Obama did no more than inherit them, although there are legitimate questions to be asked about how he has gone about trying to fix the mess he inherited from the Republicans.
Republicans now have to start doing something they intrinsically don’t like doing given their philosophy of minimal government interference in the economy, which is actually coming up with concrete economic proposals.
Not only that, but they will also have to be seen not to be indulging in the kind of bloody-minded tactics used by the more extreme wing of the Tea Party which helped vote them in. It’s a difficult dilemma.
The Republicans have already announced their global tactics, and they do not look promising. In fact they are a flagrant waste of time. There is no way that they will be able to cut back spending to what it was two years ago as they have announced, and there is no way they will be able to “starve” the health care bill of funding and kill it on the grounds that it is too liberal. Those proposals will not be enacted and nor do they have the support of anything like the majority of Americans.
A Tea Party rally in Minnesota  where some protesters carry signs such as  Kill the Bill
A Tea Party rally in Minnesota, where some protesters carry signs such as "Kill the Bill"
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Moreover, over 6 in 10 people support the health care bill clauses which prevent insurance companies from dropping coverage for seriously ill people or refusing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
The Republicans’ tactics will slow down the bill’s implementation but they won’t stop it, and that means that for as long as Republicans are busy bogging down legislation in spats over details they won’t be governing the house positively or effectively. And the same can be said about other spiteful attempts to slow down government efforts to extricate America from the mess that they are responsible for in the first place.
In fact, come to think of it, this is almost a blessing for the Democrats who, if they’ve got any sense at all, will use the next two years to point out that all the Republicans are capable of contributing to America is ideological conceit and that they are incapable of taking hard decisions.
Politics is not the kind of theater or afternoon stroll in the sun that the Tea Party imagines it to be, and if the Republicans insist on these tactics, future events may well show that Obama is the only real choice of leader America has, thus ensuring his re-election.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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