WONG: Republicans prioritize victory over governance

Over the last decade, the GOP has shown that it is more concerned with playing to the narrow interests of their base


Republicans consolidated control of the federal government in the 2016 elections.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Republican Party emerged as the undisputed victor of the 2016 elections, gaining control of the executive branch and maintaining its grip over Congress. The party’s performance in governing since then has been less than impressive. The party has failed at least 50 times in its attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, has yet to sign any major legislation and faces increasing dissent from its most valuable donors as a result of its legislative failures. The incompetence displayed by the Republican Party signals its lack of conviction towards any actual policy. Indeed, the party’s sole goal is to win election by any means necessary or, in the event of defeat, actively sabotage its opponents.

The party’s obsession with maintaining political power is best seen in North Carolina where Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was elected governor in 2016. Cooper’s election resulted in the GOP controlled General Assembly taking “sweeping changes to state government, including proposals that would diminish the governor’s authority to make appointments.” North Carolina State Sen. Phil Berger noted that such changes were intended to reduce the power of Cooper: “Governor-elect Cooper has stated on the record his intention to emulate President Obama and circumvent the legislative process … Why is he surprised the legislature is taking steps to protect its constitutional authority?”

The rejection of a multitude of these proposals by judges, however, has done little to slow the General Assembly’s intent to sabotage the governor’s powers. Instead, the assembly has chosen to “change the makeup of the courts,” sustaining legislation that required party identification on ballots for judicial elections, redrew judicial boundaries and reduced the size of the state’s Court of Appeals. The GOP’s obsession with maintaining power is not limited to North Carolina alone. Indeed, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 saw Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stating that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” As noted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the Republican Party has — since 2008 at the least — been a “10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do.”

Now, with unified control of Congress and the presidency, the party has demonstrated that it lacks the competence to actually provide stable leadership for the American populace. The election and continued support of President Donald Trump — a man with no experience in governance — has provided little benefit to the GOP. Furthermore, despite maintaining a supposedly united front, the Republican Party remains divided on important issues such as healthcare, budget deals, the repeal of the DACA program and how to combat the debt ceiling. Though some degree of dissent is to be expected — the final passage of the ACA saw 34 Democrats vote no — the GOP’s incompetence is an entirely self-inflicted issue, with the Republican base seeking politicians who have voiced opposition to the GOP’s very agenda. Electing such far-right politicians would only exacerbate the rift between the GOP’s “moderate” and conservative wings, further damaging the GOP’s already-lacking ability to govern.

Congress is currently defined by legislative failure and has displayed malevolence towards the most vulnerable Americans. It has failed to extend universally popular programs, specifically by allowing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides healthcare for some 5.7 million children, to expire. It has proposed numerous healthcare “reforms” which would increase insurance premiums upwards of 30 percent and cause 23 million to lose their insurance. Most recently, Congress is considering cutting 401(k) contribution limits to a mere $2,400. Congress’ scant few legislative accomplishments have only been achieved in tandem with assistance from the Democratic Party.

The GOP’s years of zealous opposition have rendered it ineffectual in actually leading the American populace. The party is all too willing to accept candidates that run counter to its supposed “core values,” so long as they can win election. This is most obvious in its desperation for some sort of legislative accomplishment — the GOP has mostly abandoned its supposed devotion to “fiscal prudence” during the Obama administration in favor of historically disastrous tax cuts. Yet, the inability of Congress to provide benefit to the average American is not a symptom of some nefarious “shadow government” or Democratic obstructionism. Rather, it is the GOP’s willingness to accept any and all candidates capable of general election victories, regardless of their actual past experience (or lack thereof) in governing the American populace.

William Wong is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com

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