Clayton Mitchell – Discontent: Brown Shoes in a Tuxedo World

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By: Clayton A. Mitchell, Sr., Esquire 

In an article I wrote about eleven months ago, during the 2013 sequestration aftermath, I predicted:

While the Republicans will continue to keep rising stars like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan in the front window for show and advertising, in the murk of the congressional smoky backrooms the conservative representatives will eventually and ultimately sell their purist souls once again to the tax and spend gods – not because they want to – but because it is politically necessary to ameliorate the local effects of meat cleaver sequestration. Who doubts that this will happen?

During the ensuing months, President Obama’s popularity and support dramatically disintegrated.  Except for anecdotal cases of isolated economic impacts, the sequestration cuts went largely unnoticed by the population-at-large.  During last summer, the CBO predicted the 2013 deficit would decrease far below $1 trillion dollars for the first time in years.  By September 2013, I thought my prediction of an impotent Republican opposition would be doomed.  Then came Ted Cruz.

Comedian George Goebel once asked, “You ever feel like the world is a tuxedo and you’re a pair of brown shoes?”  That’s the way Senator Cruz must have felt when his party’s leadership shunned him during his marathon filibuster.  Vowing to press on with his opposition to Obamacare, Mr. Cruz became the catalyst for a government shutdown … and a wedge between the national Republican establishment and the Tea Party. 

The ensuing colossal failure of the Obamacare rollout did not repair the Republican Party’s reputation; conversely, it severely damaged the President’s and the Democratic Party’s reputation.  Americans now generally view both national parties with disdain.  There is presently no evidence of inequality with either political party’s unpopularity outside of the Beltway.

In the face of the American public’s fury during the immediate aftermath of the Obamacare rollout, what did the Republicans do?  Led by former Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (in order to avoid another embarrassing government shutdown), they cut a backroom deal with liberal Democrats to pass the first federal budget in half a decade – a budget that fully funded Obamacare and unwound many of the sequestration cuts.  They agreed to increase spending and furtively agreed to several tax increases disguised as “fees”.  Prediction vindicated!

To my Tea Party friends who berated me all last year for my prediction, I accept your apology.  And please forgive me if I do not subscribe to your belief that fiscal responsibility will be restored to America when the Tea Party (once again) takes a stand “in strong opposition” to increasing the debt ceiling. 

I have another prediction: for fear of inflicting pain on Wall Street, the debt ceiling will be raised without delay and the upcoming Tea Party debt ceiling protest will be as effective as a whisper at a Seattle Seahawks home game because the congressional Republican Party will remain internally fractured.

Like her or despise her, one has to recognize that Nancy Pelosi was a more powerful and a more effective Speaker of the House than John Boehner.  Ms. Pelosi could count votes, and marshal her troops into a united front to pass any bill she desired, even if it was not popular in the outside world.  On the other hand, Mr. Boehner (who seeks compromised change through an incrementalist strategy) cannot control the House to serve his agenda because a significant voting block only seeks immediate revolutionary change during a period of divided government. 

The only bright spot for the Republican Party as a whole lies in the continued collapse of the Obamacare program.  The Administration and party leaders show no signs of true compromise with Republicans on this front.  With no material improvement with the program in sight, the progressive’s stock shall also further decline.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not think any of these scorched-earth political conflicts are good for America. However, they do demonstrate how easy it is to predict outcomes when each side’s only goal is total dominion over the other and when neither side wants to reconcile their differences.  The only shared outcome within the current divided federal government is Americans’ perpetual discontent with both sides.

Clayton A. Mitchell, Sr. is an attorney in Stevensville and regular contributor to Center Maryland.
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