Dan Thomasson: GOP needs to focus on winnable issues

Scripps Howard News Service Published:

WASHINGTON -- It seems fairly obvious now that the Republicans are going to have to ride into the midterm election year on an issue other than the Affordable Care Act, which more and more looks like a dead horse not worth beating.

That's not to say that flaws in the "abominable Obamacare" -- as the GOP has labeled it for the past five years -- won't offer some fodder for electioneering. But if one succumbs to the reality that once something is given by the government, it is difficult to take away, it becomes easier to accept that the opportunities for repeal are next to nil.

Even if the Democrats should manage to lose the Senate next fall, doing away entirely with the health reform bill would face doubtful success. A two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress needed to override a sure veto would be nearly impossible to achieve.

The smart money in the Republican firmament seems willing to bet on another strategy, shying away from the most radical tea party approaches of the far right and coming back toward solid conservatism that has a more general appeal. That would include concentrating on convincing voters that economic problems can be solved and immigration and tax reform can be achieved without disruptions that seem to want to turn the clock back a century or so.

The question becomes now whether the GOP's still powerful fringe groups understand that winning a primary is not the end goal-that preserving some outdated ideology at the cost of winning office is not desirable for the long or short range health of the party. That may be more difficult than it seems considering more moderate candidates are facing tough primaries from the outer reaches. Rigid doctrinaire challengers obviously didn't get the message sent by voters in the likes of Indiana and Missouri during the last election when certain Republican victories suddenly turned to ashes in the firestorm of self-destruction.

There are some signs, however, that the stranglehold that a relative few hard-nosed ideologues have had on the Republican caucus, particularly in the House, has been loosened by GOP leadership apparently tired of being portrayed as puppets and cowards and obstructionists held hostage at the expense of rational government. That includes House Speaker John Boehner.

Boehner has made it clear he is weary of the allegations and has served notice on the outside groups that he is the master of the House or caucus if one prefers. It doesn't mean, however, that he has given up his conservative credentials or his understanding that he owes allegiance to long-standing conservative principles, merely that he is more willingness to practice the art of compromise rather than being bullied into stances that are not compatible with winning.

If you are betting on a functional approach to politics and government from Capitol Hill to the White House, it's probably still a long shot.

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  • The repubs are just an emxtension of the demoncrats . The only difference is that the democrats dont care how immoral or unlawful they act..,they still reign supreme.