Angry conservatives are flocking to congressional town-hall meetings to loudly voice their opinions. Topic A: They want to be rid of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Obamacare was passed by the House and Senate on razor-thin margins. It survived a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2012. Its future was shaky until Barack Obama won a second presidential term last November.
Yet, conservatives are holding out hope that Obamacare can somehow be stopped.
The latest effort is a movement to offer the president a choice: agree to defund Obamacare or Republicans will shut down the government.
Pragmatic Republicans in both the House and the Senate are doing their best to derail this wild idea. The reasons are obvious enough. Many recall the lessons of Newt Gingrich’s time as speaker of the U.S. House in the 1990s when his government shutdown blew up in Republicans’ faces.
At a town-hall meeting last week in Oxford, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, couched his opposition to a shutdown in terms of harming the U.S. military.
However shutdown foes phrase it, this all boils down to Republican lawmakers having to break some bad news to their loyal constituents: President Obama’s version of health-care reform isn’t going away. Republicans took their best shot, but they fell short.
Now seems like a good time for a sort of intervention between GOP lawmakers and their base. After all, Republican politicians have spent four years making hay off their base’s opposition to the 44th president of the United States.
Too many Republican politicians have tolerated the sort of insanity that leads some to believe Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen but is a secret Muslim. That he doesn’t have the nation’s best interests at heart but does have a secret plan to create a totalitarian state. That he is creating death panels but isn’t interested in improving the economy.
Most Republican congressman understand these conspiracies are nonsense. Their failing is in confronting these falsehoods head on.
There was once a sort of national consensus where members of the loyal opposition could tell supporters that a president of a different party might have flawed ideas but that his intentions were honorable. Until we return to that position, Republican lawmakers can expect to have to confront the cranks and conspiracists when they host town-hall meetings.