Finding an Opposite in Place of Opposition

The government fell. All the people’s horses, and all the people’s men, have thus far failed to put it together again.

The basis of the shutdown, disagreement on the changes to the laws governing health insurance and healthcare, epitomizes the lack of real opposition in government.

The Affordable Care Act did not benefit from the sort of real opposition needed for healthy governance. And the attempts to repeal do not constitute real opposition.

If a group orders pizza, and one faction wants vegetables, the other faction wants marshmallows, the group lacks real opposition. Days later, with the group still hungry, they say they have a deal. The group will order each part of the pizza, one part at a time. The crust will come. The sauce. The cheese. Then the marshmallows, and screw the vegetables.

That still does not make real opposition.

Eventually, the marshmallowers will fracture. Some of them would be just fine with vegetables. But they wanted to support the principle of marshmallow. And they don’t want their pals to look bad.

Anyway, enough about that. The Republican party’s support will continue to erode so long as they insist of defining themselves as opposites to the Democratic party. That’s instead of being not opposite, but opposing, in negotiations.

Instead of moving toward a smaller debt, for example, the debt stays and the conservative call against it grows alongside. But a true opposition party could have made a deal. Same for tax reform. Same for reforms like school vouchers and Social Security reforms and immigration.

For most of these things the landscape includes middle ground. But instead of finding it and allowing such changes to play out and allow us to iterate our government, instead of letting oppositions calender out the law, they strictly oppose.

The democrats do this sometimes. The mentioned school vouchers or reform of Social Security come to mind.

Worse, when opposite over opposition comes forth, it need not even be toward the other party. Under the last President, George W. Bush, the opposite game came to thwart immigration reform. The Republicans lost an honest effort there, which at least contributed to their loss of the executive branch in 2008.

Some few constituents support being opposite. Some few districts do. The so-called Tea Party seems to relish this attribute, wears it upon its breast, running up to others: look, look here! I am an opposite!

But their districts provide overwhelming safety for their position. Or so it seems. The problem for them won’t be reelection. Their problem comes when the party fractures.

Moderate districts, and even stronger non-Tea Party candidates will find trouble in future election cycles, if not sooner. The ability for the minority of the minority to dictate the party line will crumble. And the utility of the Tea Party as opposite will dissolve entirely. At that point, will their districts really send them back to Washington?

Will their roars be so mighty when they come from outside the party structure? Not unless they move to a true third-party model, and recruit sufficient talent to increase their numbers at the same time. In which case loose coalitions form between the three on specific issues, but where each of the three must then act as opposition, and not as opposite.