Newt Gingrich might be a lot of things (liar, unethical, adulterer) but one thing he’s not is afraid to speak his mind. Speaking at the RNC’s summer meetings this week, Gingrich became very candid with his fellow Republicans when it came to their seemingly obsessive behavior as it relates to the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”).
In front of about 200 GOP leaders, he had this to say about his party:
“I would bet for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks while your members of Congress are home and you look at them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?’ and they will have zero answer. We are caught up right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we are negative, as long as we are vicious, as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don’t have to worry, so we don’t. This is a very deep problem.”
He’s absolutely right—on all of it. And it’s been something I, as well as many Democrats/liberals, have been saying for quite some time about Republicans.
While they’ve sat there and tossed any kind of vitriolic, hateful venom they could possibly think up towards the Affordable Care Act, they’ve offered absolutely zero answers as to what they would do to replace it. Because the fact of the matter is, many parts of the law are popular with Americans (even Republicans) and these parts are some of the areas of the law many Republicans have said they wouldn’t want to repeal.
The only problem is—they have zero plan.
Republicans have voted 40 times (with I’m sure number 41 coming as soon as they’re back from recess) to repeal “Obamacare,” but we’ve yet to see any actual plan from the GOP as to what alternative they propose to deal with our health care system.
And that’s because they don’t have one.
But maybe the most ironic thing about their intense opposition to the Affordable Care Act is that the law was built based on Republican ideas!
In the 90′s, as a response to President Clinton’s health care plans, Republicans insisted on an individual mandate. The damn mandate is their idea.
Pop quiz: Who can name the state which has actually implemented a successful health care law almost identical to the Affordable Care Act over the last few years?
If you guessed Massachusetts you would be correct. And I’m sure if you knew the state, you’re well aware of who was governor when that bill was passed. None other than Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate.
It’s just comical irony you really can’t make up.
But Gingrich’s comments go well beyond just health care. He strikes directly at the heart of the Republican party which, for the last several years, has simply been the party of “no.”
“If President Obama and Democrats support something, we oppose it.” That’s essentially been their entire political philosophy for the last 4+ years. For many Americans, since 2010 when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, Congress has been referred to as the “do nothing Congress”—because they’ve essentially done nothing.
This Congress has made a career out of holding this country hostage any time they don’t get their way. Procedural votes which have never been an issue in our nation’s history, the debt ceiling for example, are suddenly now political tools Republicans use to try and blackmail the President to get what they want.
Their entire conservative political ideology has morphed into a platform of opposing everything, supporting nothing and pandering to their far right political base to save their own asses during their primary elections.
And while I don’t agree with Gingrich on much, he’s absolutely right—this is a real problem.
He knows this party can’t continue to shift further and further to the radical right if it hopes to stay nationally relevant. He knows that their whole campaign can’t be basically, “See what I opposed!” Because that’s honestly all any of these people have, because they don’t stand for anything.
Well no, they do stand for something consistently—the opposite of whatever President Obama supports.
There’s the joke I’ve seen around the Internet that says if Obama came out in support of oxygen, Republicans would suffocate. And while it’s an over the top joke, it just strikes at the core of how Republicans have behaved since he’s been President.
My personal joke is that I’d love for President Obama to say he’s switching parties and becoming a Republican. Then you’d probably see every Republican in Congress suddenly become Democrats.
And while Gingrich believes Republicans need to offer alternatives to Democratic policies, not just attacks, reality proves that won’t be so easy.
Because besides opposing everything Democrats support—most Republicans don’t know what the hell it is they actually stand for.