Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ending the Shutdown: The Reluctant Center Prevails

I am hopeful that the current cooperation between Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate will end the government shutdown, and remove the threat of a debt default.

Even more importantly, the leaders of both parties, especially the Republican, have been obliged to act like centrists, even if they do not want to. Actually, I think most Republican and Democratic leaders, year in and year out, do want to cooperate with one another. 

For the past few years the Republicans have been bowing to their coalition partners, the Tea Party.  The Tea Party does not wish to cooperate, as they have made clear from day one. Yet the coalition of the two rightist parties was doomed from the beginning. A governing party and an anti-government party can not, by their very natures, work together to govern. 

The Republican Party made a Faustian bargain with a disorganized mass of anti-government social movements, going back to the Reagan Administration. This worked for them through most of the Reagan and Bush, Sr. years, because once in office the Republicans ignored their anti-government wing. They cooperated with the Democrats in making the government larger.

This strategy has come back to bite them, though.  All those years under the wing of the Republican Party taught the disparate anti-government types how to function as a loose party.  In the last three cycles, the Tea Party has emerged as the more effective part of the 'conservative' coalition. The minority Republican Party was forced to make a coalition with the Tea Party to gain shaky control of the House of Representatives.

I think now, having brought the credit of the United States to the brink of collapse, the Republican Party is finally starting to cut their ungovernable progeny loose.

Which is good for centrism, and for responsible government.