Perhaps by this morning Washington has muddled its way out of the government shutdown.
Regardless, the federal impasse that left 800,000 Americans out of work Tuesday morning was a national disgrace, one that underscores a Washington badly in need of mature leaders who care more about fellow Americans than their political prospects.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but the House GOP firebrands who seemed eager to show they would “not blink” while catering to the angry, no-compromise crowd did a grave disservice to the conservative cause.
They played into the Democrats’ hands by making unrealistic demands that they knew would never be accepted by the Senate and President Obama.
Yet the House, a minority of the government, was willing to throw nearly a million people out of work, including thousands at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, shutter countless government services and jeopardize an already sluggish economy in a show of political bravado.
That’s posturing, not governing.
Where is the conservative concern for order, accountability and the law?
The unbending Democrats, and especially Obama, are no innocents in this debacle. Indeed, it all stems from their hamfisted adoption of the massive and intrusive Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.
Republicans are right to continue the fight against this massive government encroachment.
And Obama and the Democratic leadership might have avoided the showdown if they had signaled early on a willingness to make reasonable concessions - particularly getting rid of the medical device tax.
But there is no getting around the reality that Democrats control the Senate and the White House.
It was irrational for congressional Republicans, pushed by the ambitious Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to hold the government hostage in an effort to assume power that should come from the ballot box.
Far more intelligent guidance came from Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. While he favors defunding Obamacare if it becomes possible, he also said “... shutting down the government and playing into the hands of the president politically is not the right thing to do. Plus, it’s going to do great harm to the American people if we pursue that course. We’ve been there. It didn’t work.”
What will work is winning elections
The Republicans retook the House and made gains in the Senate in 2010 after the law was enacted. But they lost seats in the House and Senate last year, when President Obama was re-elected during a year when the health care law was the focal issue.
The House members justified their demands by pointing to polls that show a majority of Americans oppose Obamacare.
But polls are not elections. If they were, we might have had cap and trade legislation, steep business taxes, stricter gun control and other measures that have all polled favorably at one time or another.
Elections, not mutable polls, determine government policy.
We believe the American electorate is growing weary of the Obama administration’s liberal agenda and the odds should be favorable for the GOP to take control of both the House and Senate in next year’s elections, in which case it would have more leverage to combat the administration’s excesses.
But thoughtless, self-destructive stunts such as the shutdown, which put at risk the economy and millions of jobs, won’t help the conservative cause.
The Republican Party needs to pay more attention to its leaders who understand that governing represents more than angry words and slick slogans. It requires patience, determination, and an ability to accept that, in a democracy, you do not always get your way.