I had dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, and I raised the issue: what if House Republicans actually held firm on defunding ObamaCare?
I know, I know, it won’t happen. But this is a blog, not real life, so hear me out while we fantasize.
My friend, of course, said: well, then the press would kick into gear blaming Republicans, and Republicans would back down.
Well, duh. That’s what always happens. We pretend to take a stand, the media raises its hand to smack us, and we cringe and back away before the blow ever lands.
But I pressed on. What if we continued to stand firm, against all the historical evidence of our inability to do so?
You mean, what if someone surgically implanted a spine in these people? my friend asked. Exactly, I said.
We gamed it out, and I made a case, which I would like to make to you now, that we could actually win this thing. In theory. Here’s my thinking: as the pain of a government shutdown increases, if Republicans actually stood firm and made their case, it might start to sink in that the government shutdown might end if Obama just agreed to defund ObamaCare. Which people basically hate anyway.
We might pay a heavy political price for it. Or maybe, just maybe, we would gain some respect.
I believe that, to most of the public, politicians are like two kids squawking in the back seat. They always seem to fight, and you don’t really care what they’re fighting about. You just want it to stop.
So imagine the scenario.
Barry and Ted are in the back seat. They’re fighting because Barry wants to play his PSP and Ted says it’s making annoying noises that are too loud, causing it to be hard for him to read. You, the parent, agree the PSP is too loud, and wish Barry would stop playing it, but Barry argues that it was agreed at the beginning of the trip that he could play it. If the bickering continues, you’re going to snap at Ted because, just shut up, Ted. This was the agreement and we are sticking to it.
But what if Ted is unfazed by any threats of punishment, and the bickering continues? Let’s say you have a three-day trip ahead of you and you can’t take the bickering. But you have to stay strapped into the seat and you can’t stop the car for even one second. Ted tells you the bickering is going to continue, punishment or no punishment, because he is standing on principle.
Chances are you will be unimpressed and threaten him worse. You might even actually stop the car and spank him, and threaten to take away his books for two months, or four months — or forever.
But what if none of this had an effect? Ted, who has always been compliant in the past, simply will. not. give. in. It’s been two days into the car ride now, and the bickering is constant. You just want it to stop. You swear when the car stops, you will give Ted a punishment he will never forget. But all the while, Ted explains to you why he is taking this stand. He can’t concentrate, and he needs to read to get his book report done on time. If he can’t read his book, he can’t turn in the book report. Frankly, Barry should be reading too. And by the way, mom and dad, I know the beeping annoys you too because I heard you say so to each other. And when you guys agreed to let him play it, you thought he was going to bring his headphones. It’s only after it was too late to go back for them that Barry told you he forgot them.
Mom and dad, I don’t want to bicker. I’ll stop the second Barry stops playing his PSP. Let him read like I am doing.
At some point, if the bickering is bad enough? Mom and dad might turn to Barry, and say: we know we told you that you could play it, but you didn’t bring your headphones. It’s not quiet like we thought it would be. We agree Ted should not be bitching about it, but we can’t take the noise any more. Put the damn PSP away, Barry.
Could happen. Depending on how annoying the bickering became and how much the parents wanted it to stop, they might redirect their anger — if Ted’s argument actually makes sense, and they end up actually listening to it.
It’s a fantasy. Most kids would not have Ted’s principle, and would give in to the threats. That’s how we control our kids, and it’s shocking when they don’t comply.
I can hear one objection from this readership: no way I would give in to Ted. Ted would get beaten until he is black and blue, and he would damn well comply.
I hear you! But I think most parents don’t have your principles. They would give in to the need to stop the bickering.
Voters don’t care about this stuff. If we actually stood on principle, they might tell Barry: put away your little ObamaCare toy we don’t like that much anyway. Ted’s right, after all.
I know. I know. It will never happen.
But a guy can dream, right?