The Republican Party, and its role in the government shutdown, is the topic of two columns with distinct opinions. The first is from Michael Reagan, an author and talk radio host who is the son of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The second column is from Joe Gandelman, journalist and editor in chief of The Moderate Voice (here). He also writes a column for The Week magazine. Both are columnists for CagleCartoons.com. Here is Reagan's column. Gandelman's column follows.
Headline: A blessing for the GOP
By MICHAEL REAGAN
Let the crisis continue.
Let the standoff between the Democrats and the Republicans over Obamacare drag on for as many weeks or months as necessary to wake up the American people.
Let millions struggle daily to sign up online for the government health care that they -- but not their elected representatives in Congress -- are being forced by their government to buy.
Let the mainstream media continue to blatantly side with their soulmates in the White House and continue, as per usual, to portray the Republicans as the cause of every social ill and political pain in the Republic.
Let each and every American voter -- low-information as well as high-information -- hear over and over again that it is the bad Republicans and conservatives who want to kill Obamacare.
Let all the voters of America be told over and over that it's the good Democrats and liberals in the mainstream media who are in favor of Obamacare.
Let the national impasse over Obamacare drag on until about, oh, let's say January.
By then everyone will have had a good, long look at the hard realities -- not the easy promises -- of Obamacare.
By then every American will know that signing up online for the so-called Affordable Care Act was not the only downside, just the first of many downsides in an unfair, ill-begotten government health care scheme that was poorly planned and sloppily launched.
Millions of folks also will know by January that half the promises made by the president to sell Obamacare were lies.
Many of them will have seen their monthly insurance premiums go up 20 or 40 or 100 percent.
Many will have found out, as my wife just did in a letter, that their existing Blue Cross insurance plans have been cancelled and put into a new plan under ObamaCare.
By January every American who has a pulse, a job and a TV will know exactly who was for Obamacare and who was against it.
If Obamacare is living up to the president's promises and voters are happy with it, Democrats will be the big winners.
They can expect to sweep the House and increase their majority in the Senate in the 2014 elections. And hello, President Hillarycare in 2016.
But if by early next year it's clear to all but the most fervent Obamaphile on The New York Times editorial board that Obamacare is a total fiasco, Republicans will sweep the elections and take over the Senate.
And that's exactly the way it should be. The two parties should live or die on the issue of Obamacare.
Republicans with weak knees worry that if they're blamed for shutting the government down over Obamacare, which the mainstream media will do, they'll be hurt in 2014.
But I see the Obamacare battle as a blessing for the GOP. For the first time in a long time, America is getting to see the stark difference between the Republican and Democrat parties.
You want "free" socialized medicine and all the coercive strings and stupidities that come with a government bureaucracy? Fine. Vote Democrat in 2014.
You want to get government out of health care, rely on competitive market forces, and be free to choose what level of coverage you get and where you get it? Fine. Vote Republican in 2014.
Voters will have a clear choice next year, and I'm betting the fight over Obamacare is going to backfire for Democrats, not Republicans.
It will help the GOP take the Senate in 2014. And it'll still help in 2016, when Hillarycare Clinton will find herself swept away by a hurricane of angry voters who've finally learned because of Obamacare that there's a real difference between the two parties.
Here is Gandelman's column:
Hed: The Republican Party Breaking Bad
By JOE GANDELMAN
GILROY, Calif. -- You can smell it as soon as you drive into town. Gilroy calls itself the "Garlic Capital of the World," due to its big garlic crop and its top-of-the line Gilroy Garlic Festival, which features authentic garlic ice cream. At first you can't pinpoint what the smell is; but it's a strong smell, but not a totally unpleasant one. Then there is the city's wonderful people, Mediterranean climate, graceful hillsides, and touristy shops selling items such as pickled garlic that make it all a delight.
How different from the smell in Washington, D.C., where the House Republicans -- despite the spin by Fox News, conservative talk shows, and conservative websites -- engineered a government shutdown and seem on a path to stage-managing the nation's first default on its debt, an event that could wreak havoc with the American and international economies. It's part of a process of the far-right faction of the GOP increasingly dominating the rest of the party and decimating the Republican Party's image as it takes actions and issues threats that analysts and cartoonists liken to taking Uncle Sam hostage.
Watching the GOP evolve the past few years has been like watching a political version of "Breaking Bad."
The current trajectory of the once-upon-a-time, serious solution-oriented Republican Party once led by serious "adult" leaders, is clear. The President may have a bully pulpit, but the Tea Party-Talk Radio Political Culture-Conservative Media faction now dominating the GOP is transforming the party into the Bully Party. Educators who teach anti-bullying programs ask students to stand up to bullies, report bullying, and above all not to allow it if they see it happen to others so bullying can be nipped in the bud.
You can now see a parade of prominent Republicans associated with George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan watching the GOP's evolution into a brinksmanship-loving, anti-compassionate conservatism party and expressing their dismay. They seem to be joining other Americans in concluding that the GOP's now dominant political wing desperately needs a political shrink. NOT more national or party empowerment.
The Daily Beast's Executive Editor John Avlon, a quintessential centrist and CNN analyst who once worked for New York Mayor Giuliani, writes that the shutdown "is a manufactured crisis encouraged by extreme ideologues who aren't interested in governing as much as grandstanding."
Avlon further writes: "There is the sense that maybe the stark stupidity of this conflict will break the hyper-partisan fever consuming our nation's capital. Republicans are realizing that the angry conservative populist forces they empowered to achieve power have turned on them and are now actively restricting their ability to be taken seriously as a governing force. When President Obama sees negotiating with Iran as a more reasonable option than negotiating with Republicans over the debt ceiling, we are through the looking glass."
Perhaps the sound of shattering political glass will work. Several polls now show the GOP taking a bigger hit than Obama or the Democrats for a government shutdown. Quinnipiac University's poll is utterly devastating. Republicans scored their lowest ever in the Quinnipiac poll: 74% disapprove and 17 percent approve. Also: 72 percent disapprove of shutting down the government to defund Obamacare. Even-worse: in a "generic" House race poll for 2014, voters now prefer a Democrat 43 to 33 percent -- which Quinnipiac says is the highest margin on this question.
This suggests that if Republicans stay their present course, Tea Partiers will likely hold their gerrymandered seats, but other more vulnerable Republicans could be axed by angry voters. Which again brings to mind Gilroy:
The highlight of Gilroy's gold-standard festival is when you go through "Gourmet Alley" and have your plate filled with dishes heavy in garlic. The festival often provides free breath mints. The problem for the GOP is that no matter what happens now in the shutdown or debt limit battles, for many voters in 2014 and 2016, even if the Republican Party consumes a Costco-sized crate of mints, it won't make the lingering smell of its extreme-right's political breath go away.