The Banana Republicans and the Government Shutdown!

Dear Commons Community,

I must say that I had gotten tired of the Republicans threatening to shut down the government every few months in a show of disdain for compromise with President Obama and the Democrats.  But now that a government shutdown has happened, a posting on the matter is necessary.  A column today by Joe Nocera who borrowing from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, refers to the GOP as “banana Republicans” is illuminating.   He summarizes what has happened as follows:

“The House speaker, John Boehner, won’t bring “a continuing resolution [designed to finance the government and avert a shutdown for all of six weeks] without any of the anti-Obamacare language — not because it won’t pass, but because it probably would, which would infuriate the Tea Party wing of his party and jeopardize his leadership post. Indeed, as Boehner well knows, many House Republicans do not want the government to shut down and would probably vote for the Senate’s clean bill if given half a chance. Their unwillingness to speak out against the extreme faction in their party is shameful. And it’s tragic that, at a time when the House desperately needs a strong speaker, it has John Boehner instead.

What was clear on Monday was that if the government does shut down, the Republicans are going to be blamed. All day long, we watched the Democrats, starting with President Obama, make the case that Republican demands were unreasonable, and, indeed, dangerous, given what was at stake. Republicans spent the day on the defensive. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, described Republican tactics to me as “hostage taking.” Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, told reporters that if “we can’t pass this” — meaning a clean C.R. [continung resolution]— “we’re only truly entering a banana republican mind-set.”

Nocera’s conclusion:

“A party controlled by its most extreme faction will ultimately be forced back to the center. The Democrats learned that when Walter Mondale was losing to Ronald Reagan, and Michael Dukakis to George H.W. Bush. Now it is the Republicans who don’t seem to understand that their extreme tactics are pleasing a small percentage of their countrymen but alienating everyone else.”

Alienating everybody indeed.  The GOP will change and learn to compromise or become irrelevant in national elections.



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