Mid-term victory for the do-nothing party?


The mid-term elections are upon us, and all signs point to a tsunami.

The Republicans are expected to seize control of the House of Representatives by a wide margin, and likely the Senate. Kevin McCarthy is poised to assume the House Speaker role and Mitch McConnell the Senate Majority Leader.

And isn’t this as it should be? Afterall, the Republicans have shown extraordinary fortitude in sticking to their game plan in unwavering fashion. They set out with a simple plan to do nothing.

And they have succeeded beyond all measure.

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As the Democrats in the legislature have attempted to legislate, the Republicans have resisted at every turn. Imagine the commitment, the imagination required to serve as a legislator while making every effort to derail all legislation? Remarkable really, and rewarding the do-nothing party in the coming mid-term elections seems only fair when considering just how many policy prescriptions the Republicans have attempted to thwart.

Abortion is obviously at the top of the do-nothing list. When the Supreme Court reversed a half-century of deference to a woman’s personal conscience and choice, what did the Republicans do when the Democrats tried to intervene? Well nada, of course. With remarkable discipline neither the House nor Senate Republicans stepped up to do something. Rather, while ignoring the fact that most Americans believe that the abortion decision should be left to a woman and her doctor, they sat on their hands.

Consider too, the infrastructure bill passed into law at the end of 2021. By all non-partisan accounts, this bill is critically necessary to shore up our sorely neglected roads, bridges, airports, public transit, to expand broadband access, and to upgrade our electric grid and water systems. This is the most important investment, since the 1950s and the Eisenhower administration, to rebuild the pathways that drive our economy. But were the Republicans at all tempted to get on board? Not a chance.

Out of 211 Republican members of the House of Representatives, only 13 supported the infrastructure bill. Hard to imagine a more stunning show of solidarity, of commitment to the do-nothing cause. So, what if bridges are getting a bit creaky and that some, as happened in Minneapolis, are collapsing altogether?

Sometimes commitment to principle requires sacrifice.

And about those 13 defectors? Well, the Republican base knows how to deal with them, how to make their lives miserable in their next primary season. Independence must not be tolerated; impudence must not go unpunished.

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act presented yet the latest opportunity for Republicans to obstruct. This is the first piece of federal legislation ever to combat climate change. Through the creation of incentives to move away from fossil fuels, the law is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2040. Some call it a game-changer. The act also extends assistance to Americans needing help paying for health insurance, while also taking aim at curbing soaring drug prices which, in our country, are triple the cost of what other nations pay for the same drugs. To pay for these initiatives, the Inflation Reduction Act implements a modest 15% minimum tax on large corporations. And yet, in a singular show of obstinance, not a single Republican in either body of Congress supported this bill. Not one.

But truly, why should the Republicans get behind any of these measures? They understand, as the Democrats never will, that if you are committed to doing nothing, to ensuring that the Democrats don’t succeed, you cannot be distracted by sound policy or real need. You simply must stick to your guns and just say no, even if this means that the country fails.

Oh, and about those guns? Republicans simply will not be moved. Three hundred fifty million weapons circulating in our country, more even than the number of Americans. More mass shootings this year than days in the year and including nineteen students and two teachers killed in Uvalde, Texas and seven shot and killed at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. And still, 197 Republicans in the House of Representatives opposed the first, albeit modest, gun safety legislation to pass out of Congress in 30 years. That legislation will help secure guns from those who are dangerous, provide money for school safety and crisis intervention programs, while also allowing for more robust background checks.

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No one will ever be able accuse the Republicans of failing to stick to their guns.

So, as we approach the November elections and the Democrats ask for your vote, do not forget all their transgressions, how, unlike their Republican colleagues, the Democrats have failed altogether to do nothing. Instead, and with almost no Republican help, they have done something, many things. They have unapologetically passed legislation to make the best investment in infrastructure upgrade in 50 years, to begin to address gun safety, to combat climate change, control drug prices and to reduce inflation.

How dare they?

On the other hand, as President Biden has observed, every Republican in Congress voted against lowering drug prices and lowering health care costs; every single Republican voted against tackling climate change and lowering energy costs.

In recognition of this historic dedication to the do-nothing cause, don’t Republicans deserve to steamroll the Democrats? Haven’t they succeeded against all odds, against all good policy and reason, with their just-say-no strategy?

And for this success in doing nothing, doesn’t the Republican party deserve our votes and victory in the mid-term elections?

Bill O’Brien, a labor and civil rights lawyer in Minnesota. 


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