With the resolution of the Debt Ceiling “crisis” coming down to the wire, one thing is certain — if both Democrats and the Tea Party oppose a proposed solution, then that is almost indisputable evidence that the solution is both conservative AND reasonable. And, at this point, the only solution that has any chance of being passed into law and signed by President Obama is one that is the most conservative AND reasonable.
It’s understandable why the Democrats — who are mostly to the left-of-center — and Tea Partiers — many of whom are to the far right of center — would oppose that which is conservative (Democrat opposed) and reasonable (Tea Partiers). But, in the final climactic days leading up to default day (August 2), both groups appear more willing to allow America to default if they don’t get all that they want and more.
With divided government, that is simply not going to happen. That is the reality and, reasonable people understand that reality. In today’s National Review Online, both Charles Krauthammer (here) and Mona Charen (here) have spot on articles arguing for the passage of Speaker Boehner’s debt reduction plan. In pointing out the obvious, Krauthammer writes:
“And under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one house alone. Today’s resurgent conservatism, with its fidelity to constitutionalism, should be particularly attuned to this constraint, imposed as it is by a system of deliberately separated — and mutually limiting — powers. Given this reality, trying to force the issue — trying to turn a blocking minority into a governing authority — is not just counter-constitutional in spirit but self-destructive in practice.”
But, self-destruction behavior is exactly what the Tea Party politicians are practicing this week. Instead of supporting Boehner’s plan — even if it is not ideal — some within the Tea Party Movement would rather stand athwart history and spout nonsense. Much like John Cusack’s tweets, the inane things coming out of the mouths of some Senators and Representatives is mind-boggling. Mona Charen shares but a few in her article:
“Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) vowed that he would not vote to raise the debt ceiling until a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution passed. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) explained his unwillingness to back Boehner’s bill this way: “I really truly worry that the debt is one of the single greatest threats to the United States of America. That we’re talking about a problem that is multitrillion dollars in its depth and I think we ought to be cutting more. I just don’t think it goes far enough.”
Of course, this is the same Senator Paul who publicly questioned parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And, yes, I am aware that he later — under heavy pressure — “clarified” his remarks. However, his past comments on the Civil Rights Act, coupled with his present comments on passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment, reveals someone who maybe intelligent and principled, but lacking in common sense.
But, it is common-sense conservatism that we need in Washington, D.C. To the extent that the Tea Party contributes to common-sense conservatism, they should be applauded. However, when the Tea Party Movement exhibits what Charen calls an “obtuseness” — either in selecting candidates for the Senate (i.e., Angle and O’Donnell) or in opposing the most conservative debt ceiling legislation THAT CAN PASS AND BE SIGNED INTO LAW — then the Tea Party should be called out and opposed by common-sense conservatives.
As you might have guessed, I am definitely not part of the Tea Party Movement. I consider myself a common-sense conservative — theologically, politically, economically, and socially. I do think that the Tea Party — by and large — has been good for America. But, they are not perfect. They make mistakes. Some within their ranks — elected and non-elected — would rather not compromise, but instead stand firmly on their principles, even if they are standing on a sinking ship.
Compromise is not always a bad word. I can think of a few words that are bad — default, debt, taxes, and “two-term President Obama.” The Tea Partiers can oppose the Boehner plan this week. But, they shouldn’t be surprised when their intransigence in 2011 leads to all those bad words becoming a reality in 2012 and beyond!