What’s Left – Resistant Republicans

Amanda McKeon

In what can only be described as flagrant showboating, House Minority Leader John Boehner threw, during debate, the stimulus package to the floor. Apparently, he felt that making a grand point about his principles and creating a spectacle of his beliefs takes precedence over his duty to the public.

Republicans in Congress want to sit back and watch the economy wallow in pain. In a twisted display of bystander effect, they prefer to idly take stock of the carnage unleashed by deregulation and fiscal irresponsibility and to shrug their shoulders at each house foreclosed on and job lost.

The Republicans have little rationale for their opposition. Based on principle, they would prefer that the government extricate itself from the situation, allowing the market to take care of itself. Unfortunately, this type of behavior is part of what led to our economic ruin: the government failed to regulate markets, which allowed irresponsible investments to flourish. It is all well and good to have principles, but when they drive an economy into the dumps, it may be an indication that those adamant beliefs are flawed.

Moreover, the Republican members of Congress that oppose the stimulus ignore the responsibility they have to their constituencies. In proclaiming and adamantly sticking by their principles, they ignore the fact that millions are suffering from unemployment, foreclosures and poor investments. Unfortunately, their principles and “survival of the fittest” attitude dictate indifference to those suffering and struggling.

Adding to the absurdity of their opposition is the fact that the Republican senators who voted against the stimulus come from states like Florida and Nevada, which face some of the most negative effects of the downturn. Besides this, though, the effects of the downturn are national, so people in every state need help coping financially – representatives from every state have a stake in a stimulus package that can help their constituents.

In a refreshing show of compassion, Republican governors overwhelmingly support President Obama’s package. They realize that the stimulus makes available funds ($135 billion for states) that are crucial to continued support of education, infrastructure projects and Medicaid. Their support represents a cognizance of their responsibility and accountability to the needs of their constituents and a recognition that people are struggling. Furthermore, the governors’ support reflects the fact that they realize the need for drastic action and that their politics should not obfuscate their duty to the people of their states.

So why are Republican members of Congress so resistant? Unfortunately, I believe that political posturing and the G.O.P’s post-election identity crisis underlies their stubbornness.

It is predicted by economists and the president that the effects of the stimulus will not be felt for at least a couple of years and that the economy’s downturn will not quickly change course. This fact allows for prime vote-jockeying in the future because by the time midterm elections roll around, there could very well be little or no visible results from the stimulus: the Republicans in Congress can campaign on a big fat, “I told you so.”

I understand that the Republicans – especially those on Capitol Hill – are still smarting from the public rejection levied last November. Perhaps the party feels that it needs to revamp and that it’s time for a makeover. I suppose they think that the best way to shake up their image is by taking on an unwaveringly defiant tone and grandstanding, showing the public that they really are “mavericks.” After all, there’s no political capital to be had in humbly putting differences aside for the sake of the public’s wellbeing, right?