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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Boehner and the Limits of Power

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) writes at The New York Times about the conservative discontent that led to the resignation of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).   Under Boehner's leadership, the House GOP regained its majority in 2010.
But somewhere along the road, a number of voices on the right began demanding that the Republican Congress not only block Mr. Obama’s agenda but enact a reversal of his policies. They took to the airwaves and the Internet and pronounced that congressional Republicans could undo the president’s agenda — with him still in office, mind you — and enact into law a conservative vision for government, without compromise
Strangely, according to these voices, the only reason that was not occurring had nothing to do with the fact that the president was unlikely to repeal his own laws, or that under the Constitution, absent the assent of the president or two-thirds of both houses of Congress, you cannot make law. The problem was a lack of will on the part of congressional Republican leaders.
The tragedy here is that these voices have not been honest with our fellow conservatives. They have not been honest about what can be accomplished when your party controls Congress, but not the White House. As a result we missed chances to achieve important policies for the good of the country. 
The response I often hear to these points is: “Well, Republicans at least need to fight.” On this I agree. It is imperative that we fight for what we believe in. But we should fight smartly. I have never heard of a football team that won by throwing only Hail Mary passes, yet that is what is being demanded of Republican leaders today. Victory on the field is more often a result of three yards and a cloud of dust. In politics this means incremental progress, winning hearts and minds before winning the vote — the kind of governance Ronald Reagan perfected.