If it doesn't stand for limited government, then what's it good for?
A lot of people seem to be having trouble understanding why Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz undertook his 21-hour, not-really-a-filibuster harangue against the evils of Obamacare. The votes just aren’t there to defund the Affordable Care Act, so why drive into a political cul-de-sac that in the end will not change one vote or spend one less dime?
Even Indiana’s Republican Sen. Dan Coats and our seven Republicans in the House focus on Obamacare and slight the larger context of Cruz’s crusade. Yes, Obamacare is terrible, even worse than originally thought, says Coats, but it isn’t worth risking a government shutdown in trying to defund it. Yes, say the House Republicans, it is worth the risk of a shutdown.
But Cruz was not really trying to kill Obamacare any more than Wendy Davis was really trying to prevent late-term-abortion bans with her filibuster in the Texas legislature. Both knew they were fighting a lost cause but did it anyway because they wanted to stake out their political territory. They were politicians of principle – whether you agree with their principles or not – standing up for their principles.
Cruz was using Obamacare as a microcosm of the larger problem – a federal government that is much too big, spends far too extravagantly and is far too intrusive into our daily lives. He was actually championing the idea of limited, government, which the GOP allegedly stands for.
Alas, it does not, not really. When Cruz appeared on Fox News, that network’s personnel were slipped embarrass-the-senator talking points – by Republican insiders. Sen. John McCain has gone so far as to call Cruz and like-minded Republicans such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Utah Sen. Mike Lee “wacko birds.” The GOP establishment is just as invested in Washington and the existing power structure as the Democratic Party. They’re all in the same boat, and they don’t want it rocked.
But people like Cruz, Paul and Lee are the future of the Republican Party, if indeed the party has a future. Democrats know very well what they stand for – ever bigger government. If the GOP isn’t going to offer an alternative to that vision, what’s its reason fore existence?
A recent poll says 60 percent of Americans now think the federal government is too powerful. There’s a wave to be ridden, and if the Republican Party is too stupid to catch it, good riddance. Those who truly believe in limited government should own McCain’s epithet. So, goodbye to the Tea Party, and hello to the Wacko Bird Party. Say so long to the Dodo birds before their extinction is final.