Republicans will not control the Presidency until January 2013 at the earliest. This unpleasant fact means Republicans in Congress will be severely hamstrung by the veto pen. It means that most, though not all, of what Republicans do will likely not be substantive, but instead be primarily political in its effects. Oh well, if it must be two years of political theater, lets at least put on a good show that will have people asking for an encore in 2012. We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of 1995-1996 that allowed Bill Clinton to get reelected. The recession has brought a fiscal crisis to America that we all thought we had another few years to sort out, and that politicians apparently thought would never come at all. For decades, government spending has hovered between 18 and 21 percent of GDP. Obama has increased it to 25%, and entitlement spending is set to move that towards 40, which, combined with state spending, would leave government in control of over half of the economy. We have only two options- raise taxes dramatically, or don’t spend the money. Seeing as raising taxes will choke off growth, it may not even be possible for the country to meet its future spending obligations on the present path. On the other hand, if we cut into spending, we will find that economic growth eases the pain of solving our fiscal mess.
Since Obama ain’t going anywhere for the next couple of years, what Republicans should avoid doing is at least as important as what they actually pass. The most important thing is to give Americans a taste of grown-up government, the kind of serious government that Democrats promised and failed to deliver. After more than four years of bitter political hatred and partisanship pushed by the Democratic Party and their fellow travelers in the media, who’s main (only?) arguments have been “Blame Bush” and “Cry Racism,” people will be grateful for a Republican Party that seeks to do the people’s work and avoid nasty partisan bickering. Where Republicans can work with Democrats, they should. I don’t see Obama pursuing Clintonian triangulation, so let the people see him as a wacko obstructionist.
Part of this means no unnecessary witch hunts. Sure, some people like Attorney General Eric Holder have to be forced out of office. (FWIW, I think Holder will step down during the lame duck session.) However, Republicans can’t come across as putting the interests of the party over the country. Democrats do this consistently (see Iraq II and the political machine which recycles your money through favored constituencies into political donations and votes for politicians which, when elected, dole out your money to favored constituencies…) and I’ll be damned if I see my party acting the same way, regardless of the issue. We can’t be seen attempting to damage the President, and we shouldn’t be trying anyway. He is the President, and he is tasked with carrying on our foreign policy. A weak President at home makes our enemies think America herself is weak and divided. We cannot afford this mistake as a nation, and the voters will punish Republicans for it in 2012 to boot. Bad for the nation, bad for the party.