The Republican party is grateful to be back in the minority

January 13, 2007 | By | 3 Replies More

A recent post on Daily Kos reported on the U.S. House of Representatives passing a bill to loosen Republican restrictions on stem-cell research. Although it sailed through the House and looks set to pass the Senate, George W. Bush has threatened to veto it, and it has not yet gained the support of a veto-proof majority in Congress. However, its backers have promised to reintroduce it until it does.

There was one line in particular from the article that caught my attention:

“I’m confident we’ll have a veto-proof bill this time,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), one of three high-powered Republican supporters of stem cell research who attended the Tuesday briefing. In an odd Washington moment, all three seemed briefly grateful that the Democrats were back in charge.

This excerpt perfectly sums up a feeling I have had several times since the election: that the Republicans, in a bizarre way, are glad that they lost. Another instance that comes to mind is Rush Limbaugh’s stating on air that he felt “liberated” by the election results because he no longer has to “carry the water for people who I don’t think deserve having their water carried”, and that he no longer feels obligated to defend “some of this legislation coming out of [the Republican Congress] that I have just cringed at”. If he disliked it so strongly, why didn’t he say so then?

There is a comparison that I think needs to be made: the Republicans, at this point, are like drug addicts who’ve finally gotten the help they need. They knew they were out of control, but they were powerless to stop their spiral of self-destructive behavior. Now they’ve been involuntarily committed to medical care, and they are grateful that someone is finally going to save them from themselves.

The Republicans’ behavior during their several years in the majority would seem to support this thesis. The disastrous war in Iraq, the failure to take any effective steps against terrorism, the repulsive intrusion of the Terri Schiavo fiasco, the non-stop pandering to the religious right and endless savage discrimination against gays, the staggering waste and bloat of growing government bureaucracy, and more show how terrible their governance has been for the country. And though there may be a few truly insane conservative legislators who welcome these disasters with open arms, I am certain that the majority of them are not unintelligent people and knew full well what havoc they were wreaking. Limbaugh’s comment shows this, and if he says it, we can be sure there are many more Republicans thinking it.

And yet, as long as these tactics continued to bring them electoral success, the Republicans seemed helpless to wean themselves from their downward spiral. There was only one thing that could have stopped them, and that was the thing that happened: the American public finally grew tired of their corruption and incompetence and threw them out of office. Now the Republicans seem almost glad to be back in the minority, where they belong, and where their irrational rhetoric will remain just that and will not do any additional harm to the country I am sure they love.

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Category: Current Events, Health, Politics, Science

About the Author ()

I’m an author, skeptic and computer programmer living in New York City. I’m also an unapologetic atheist, and believe passionately that freethinkers deserve a much stronger voice in our culture than they’ve been given in the past. Since politicians and the mainstream media aren’t willing to give us that, it falls to us to take our case directly to the public. Both on my own weblog, Daylight Atheism, and here on Dangerous Intersection, I hope to be able to spread the good news of freethought!

Comments (3)

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  1. Ebonmuse says:

    As it happens, the day after posting this thesis I found some additional evidence in favor of it:

    Freed from the pressures of being the majority and from the heavy hand of former leaders including retired representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), many back-bench Republicans are showing themselves to be more moderate than their conservative leadership and increasingly mindful of shifting voter sentiment.

    …"You're freer to vote your conscience," said Rep. Jo Anne Emerson (R-Mo.), who received an 88 percent voting record from the American Conservative Union in 2005 but has so far sided with Democrats on new budget rules, Medicare prescription-drug negotiations, raising the minimum wage and funding stem cell research. "Or, really, I feel free to represent my constituents exactly as they want me to be."

    Just think of what quotes like this mean: when they were in the majority, these Republicans are saying, they felt that they were not able to do what the people they were representing wanted them to do. Now they can. Our long national nightmare may be ending at last…

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Ebonmuse: I read that same article you placed in your comment (above). I had also read your post, and was pondering my intense emotional reaction to both. Here's where I am today: I take the statement by Jo Anne Emerson (and other newly "freed") republicans as admissions of guilt. They are admitting that they have been violating their oaths of office for political expediency. There is no greater crime against our country. I write this knowing the legislation-as-sausage-making image. I'm not naive as to the toxic culture of DC. The political enticements and pressures those Republican representatives felt only serve as explanations for their pre-meditated on-going behavior, not as real excuses.

    But I'm not buying that the are victims. No one (or, at least, I would hope no one) was putting a gun to their heads while they cast all of their ludicrous democracy-crushing emperialism-mongering votes. But now, they are so relieved to do what is right and good for their constituents.

    Well, it was all in their heads. They were always free, but they didn't have the courage to vote honestly all along.

    I'm not convinced that these Republicans have learned anything at all. I suspect that they are making this current round of "I am free" as a matter of expedience, not out of any sense of remorse.

    I hope that I am wrong in my pessimism.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post and comment.

  3. Erika Price says:

    Rush's comment makes me think of the psychological phenomenon of groupthink, wherein an individual may feel doubts about their leadership, but chooses to silence all desent for fear of disturbing the progress of the group. Drunk on the former power of the Republican Party, even skeptical conservatives bit their tongues, and we all suffered for it.

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