And so any opposition Republicans make is purely political strategy. The rightwing talkers keep telling them that they need to oppose it or they'll suffer politically. And as I've explained repeatedly, this is an idiotic strategy. The only people who gain power from this are the few Republicans who break ranks and rightwing talkers like Limbaugh and O'Reilly who require divisiveness to keep their rabid fans tuning-in.
Because as I pointed out in that last post, Republican politicians are just sidelining themselves using the same "obstructionist" strategy they always tried to use on us. They clearly understand that this is a losing position, yet Limbaugh won't let them have any other. As Carpetbagger points out, Arlon Specter says that many of his colleagues wanted to join him, but realized that doing so would make their Republican primaries hard to win. And so they went against their better judgment because Limbaugh gave them no other choice.
Of course, the solution to that would have been for these politicians to stop lying about the stimulus and explain that it's a good idea. Which, as I already mentioned, everyone already agrees with. But that'd require them to face-off against Limbaugh and the other talkers, who clearly are more influential with the base. So Limbaugh is essentially holding the Republican Party hostage, solely for the benefit of his ratings.
For as much as Congressional Republicans are in a power struggle, it's entirely against Limbaugh and his ilk; and they're clearly losing. And because of that, Congressional Repubs have forfeited the power struggle against Obama.
And so it bugs me to read Atrios and Carpetbagger suggest that this is how things are supposed to work because Republicans are the "opposition" party. Because that's not how democracy is supposed to work. Democracy isn't the tyranny of the majority. It's not about picking the most popular leaders. It's not about one party ruling while the other party jeers from the sideline. It's about giving a voice to the people. All the people. Not just the ones who won.
And even if your candidate loses, you're supposed to feel positive, because you had a voice in how your life is governed. Republicans were wrong for imagining that victory means having the losers "suck it" until the next election. Democracy is a full-time system, not just an event that happens on Election Day. The presidency isn't a four-year dictatorship and Obama doesn't just represent Democrats. In theory, Obama should take into account all Americans, and while it's impossible for him to satisfy them all, he needs to at least demonstrate that he hears them and is also representing their interests. Similarly, all politicians should consider all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. To do otherwise would be anti-democratic.
But Limbaugh doesn't want that to happen. He doesn't want his fans to think Obama is listening to them. He wants them to feel powerless against Obama and that Limbaugh is the only outlet of power they have. And that means he has to make Republican politicians powerless. He doesn't want them making the stimulus bill better, or any other Democratic bill better. He wants them to abstain completely. If they're not working to make the bills better, they might as well not even be in Congress.
So effectively, the people these congressmen represent don't have representatives in Congress. No one is sticking up for them but Limbaugh. Limbaugh is the only voice they have. They have been effectively disenfranchised. And that's the way the Limbaughs want it. Republicans aren't functioning as an opposition party. They're a non-existent party, which doesn't function at all.
Purpose of Democracy
And that completely subverts the entire purpose of democracy. Again, democracy isn't about picking leaders. It's about giving people an ownership stake in the government. And by doing so, they will stay within the governmental system and use the tools it provides to better control their lives. And the alternative is for them to go outside the system, remain angry, and do shit like blow up federal buildings and attend survivalist training camps. People do those things because they see government as the enemy, because it doesn't represent them.
And that's exactly what Limbaugh wants, though I doubt he wants it go that far. But it will. It did in the 90's and it will now. And democracy is meant to prevent that. Sure, democracy will give us bad leaders and foolish policies. It will frustrate and anger you, because you know what needs to be done; if only those fool politicians would obey you. But again, it's not about you, or your policies, or your leaders. It's about giving power to the people. That's the entire purpose of democracy.
And hey, this isn't our fault. It's not our job to ensure that Republican voters have a voice. And if Republicans insist on remaining impotent and voiceless, there's nothing we can do to stop that. But all the same, this is bad for us. This is not how democracy is supposed to work. Society benefits when the Timothy McVeighs feel they are being listened to. Terrorism and crime is what people choose when they feel the system isn't working for them. It's to our benefit that as many people as possible stay within the system.
This isn't about winning elections so we can impose our policies on America. It's about building a healthier society. Sure, sidelining Republicans might give us better healthcare policies and regulations, but that's a minor benefit if they're blowing up our cities. No, we don't have much of a choice in this, but we shouldn't act as if this is how things should work.