Part of being a Democrat is acting like you’re losing even when you’re winning. Part of being a Republican is acting like you’re winning even when you’re losing. The phrase “silent majority,” that brilliant bit of Nixonian rhetoric, is a way to augment Republican numbers and voices. “Nearly all people agree with me and they’re not only in my imagination … you just can’t hear them.”
Senator Jim DeMint (SC-R) has an odd obsession with ill-fitting metaphors. He famously proclaimed his only reason to kill the Affordable Care Act was to annihilate the president politically. "If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” said the tea-touting Senator. DeMint has a pre-existing condition; he thinks an enemy’s high casualty mêlée is comparable to the inability to pass a sensible, relatively mild, reform bill. Well, at least when he’s talking about Democrats. As the kick-off speaker at this year’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) DeMint used a somewhat softer analogy: football. Specifically these two teams DeMint sees have different goals. “We don’t have shared goals with the Democrats…Compromise works well in this world when you have shared goals."
In football the teams are never expected to go in the same direction with the best interests of the fans in mind. Also in football, no team threatens to shut down the country as a strategy to win the game.
But maybe DeMint is correct: It’s really tough to compromise with a group that’s solitary goal is destroying you. Apparently taking the same oath to uphold the same Constitution, in the same country, drawing the same paycheck, in the same office building, in the same city and being of the same religion, sharing the same language and being mostly (85 percent) male, white and wealthy isn’t enough common ground for Republicans to even entertain working with those alien Democrats. It’s even tougher to compromise with a group who you could totally agree with but they retroactively become against their own ideas once you propose them. Like say, the individual mandate every GOP candidate was for before he was against it. (Yes, except Ron Paul, keep your emails.)
Enter the “severely conservative.” This was the description Mitt Romney bestowed upon himself at this year’s CPAC. “I was a severely conservative Republican governor,” said the oft-frontrunner. “Severe” is a word normally associated with pain or really bad weather. With today’s GOP, not only do Republicans refuse to have the same goals – they deny all similarities to their enemy. “The President is not like us.” This is severely conservative.
In the same speech Romney promised to repeal ObamaCare even though it’s nearly identical to the plan Romney signed into law in Massachusetts, dubbed RomneyCare.
Let’s put it this way: If Romney “repealed and replaced” the “job-killing ObamaCare” with RomneyCare, no one would notice. If there were a taste test and you covered the labels – no one could tell the difference. You’d have a 50/50 chance of guessing which reform you were actually enjoying.
But to be a true severe conservative demands suspending disbelief. What must you be willing to accept? The economy buckling while a Republican was in the White House never happened. Bush never bailed out the banks or the auto industry. Deficits suddenly matter. Clint Eastwood is a hippie. And if the country continues to struggle it’ll be great for the GOP.
It reminds me of King Pyrrhus’ quote which sums up the term Pyrrhic victory: "If we are victorious in one more battle, we shall be utterly ruined."
And well, these severe conservatives are acting like they’re winning.
That should tell us something.