Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What about the GNP (Grand “No” Party)?

In my previous posting, I referred to the Republican Party as the GNP (Grand “No” Party). The first comment received about that posting was from a Thinking Friend (now hopefully not a former friend!) who wrote, “. . . in my opinion it doesn't help any of your causes when you resort to immature comments like ‘the GNP (Grand "No" Party).’”
This blog was not intended to focus on politics: it is supposed to be about theological and ethical issues. But the latter cannot be divorced from politics, and whether “immature” or not, since it seems clear to me that in the last two years the Republican Party has consistently said “no” on significant ethical issues, it deserves the designation I used.
(During the last two years the GOP has often been called, mostly by Democrats of course, the “Party of No.” That sentiment is expressed well by the award-winning cartoonist John Sherffius. I thought maybe I was coining a new title by calling it the GNP, but after using that label I found numerous references to the “Grand No Party” on the Internet.)
The same TF went on to write, “With their super majority the DNC had plenty of time to force these issues through the legislative process starting 24 months ago but they have waited until now to jam them through when the American people voted in the recent elections for a different direction on some of these issues.
Yes, the Obama administration did use their super majority to enact health care legislation—and has been severely criticized by many for doing so. But that is when I first became aware that the GOP had become the GNP. Not a single Republican voted for the health care legislation.
Now this month, the Republicans are blocking the repeal of DADT, as I wrote about last time. They probably are going to kill the DREAM Act in the Senate. And even the very important START nuclear treaty with Russia may not get enough Republican votes to pass.
In spite of this country being a democracy, which generally means rule by a majority, on issue after issue, forty-one negative Republican Senators have repeatedly been able to defeat legislation or motions proposed by the administration. (And since it is a treaty, thirty-four negative votes can defeat START.)
My (former?) TF also wrote, “Finally the GOP is certainly not saying ‘no’ to the President’s recommendation to extend the Bush Tax Cuts.” But that is true only because, among other things, the GOP were adamant in saying ‘no’ to the extension of unemployment benefits unless the tax cuts were extended to everyone, millionaires included. In this case, being the GNP worked—but, I’m afraid, to the detriment of the country as a whole.
I long for the day when this country can be governed not by Democrats or by Republicans but by statesmen and stateswomen who truly seek to govern for the general welfare of all the people in the nation—and tilted toward those who are the neediest among us rather than the wealthiest two percent.


  1. You're absolutely right about the Republican Party. They seem to have become entirely captured by ideology and then by this bizarre obstinacy. As long as we have this kind of radical politics in the U.S., there cannot be solutions to our problems, domestic or international--only crises and suffering, except, of course, for the wealthy.

  2. If the democrats had not acted like a group of tom cats, every piece of social legislation that you have mentioned and more could have been enacted during the past two years. Blaming the minority party for their obstinancy over the past two years is nothing but an excuse for blundering a once in every other generation majority. The republicans could not stop any legislation, if the democrat leaders had the other democrats in sync with these social desires. This is little more than sour grapes for a botched opportunity to fundamentally align the U S with every country in the world.

    The bigger question for me, though, is not about what the government is doing or not doing, but what is the actual purpose of government? The more I see of inept and incompetent bureaucrats (I do know some that I think the world of by the way), the more I respect the Baptist version of bottom up governance instead of top down governance. It will not happen in my lifetime, but I think that the government that governs the least is actually the best type of government for it allows the people the power over their own lives. The greatest plague that this planet has known from humanity has been when power has been accumulated into the hands of the few.

  3. I appreciate DHJ expressing his opinions, even though we are not in agreement.

    I would remind him, and others, though, that most of the legislation was blocked because of the need for, and lack of, a "super-majority." Thus, as few as 41 Senators could, and did from time to time, block legislation favored by as many at 59 Senators. That is why the minority party can be blamed for always saying No.

  4. Earlier this morning, a Thinking Friend in Kentucky wrote,

    "I'm with you on this, Leroy. Our Kentucky senator, Mitch McConnell, is the chief source of this M.O. He is no statesman. He is about as partisan as any person who ever held this high office. I have the same fears you do about these three important issues precisely because he will oppose them. It's a sad day for America!"

  5. I also received an e-mail which said, in part,

    "Amen! I have given these issues a lot of thought... we've gone from "Hope" to "Nope" in 2 years. The Republican position of saying "NO" was not policy based but politically based. Yet... they were able to take advantage of the economic crisis and increase voter anxiety and play on voters fears to get control of the House and narrow the margins in the Senate.

    "The President and Congress put in place the mechanisms to get the country headed back to prosperity but paid the price for the economic pain we are still in. Even though the Republicans and previous lack of leadership put us in crisis in the first place."

  6. Until the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts in late 2009, the democrats in the Senate had 60 votes needed to invoke cloture. For nearly the first year every branch of executive and the legislative part of the government was completely in the hands of the democrats without any chance of styming any legislation without at least one democrat. It is interesting that the health care legislation passed after the Scott Brown election with only 59 seats in the senate. Several republicans broke rank and ended up allowing the legislation to be voted on and ultimately signed into law.

    I suspect that most of folks interested in an expanded bureaucracy, have never run a business or employed people in a business. I think that it is fair criticism that the republicans have been been in the pocket of "big business". I think that the dirty secret, though, is that democrats are also in the pocket of big business, but their rhetoric makes many people believe that they are for the average person. Several cases in point, first the tobacco legislation passed in 2009 was written by the lobbyist for Philip-Morris to decrease competition thereby locking in their dominance in the U S market without having to compete in the marketplace. Many could care less about tobacco and thin that it should be legislated out of existence. The next example is the health care legislation. Again the bill that was produced was written by lobbyist for the large hospital corporations and drug companies to ensure their place at the federal trough and reducing competition in the market place again. The fin reg bill essentially has guaranted in legislation that there are institutions that are too big to fail and hence was written by lobbyists for Goldmann Sachs, Citigroup, and several other large Wall Street Banks. Each of these acts of legislation have the impact of protecting the interests of a few large players at the expense of small players (and clearly too small to succeed institutions). These legislations were all passed by democrats, because they are for the average joe in word but not in deed.

    Both parties are bought at this point with one party being less effective in hiding their alliances than the other. This is important only in respect that over 70% of all new jobs created in the U S are done by microbusinesses--i.e. start ups! When the economic environment is stacked against these start ups via legislation, regulation, fiscal crises, and credit challenges, then the economy will be on slow growth trajectory at best and flat or declining as has been the case.

  7. One of the points that I enjoy in these blogs is that there is a seeking of alternatives ways of dealing with sticky issues. While I may not agree with the recommendations in many cases, I do appreciate the search for a third way. When it comes to traditional politics in this blog, though, it seems to be a straight up either/or choice. I do not want to choose either of these choices, because I think they are bad and worse. There are other ways of working out these issues, solving problems, and making the system work for the folks again. Charity should start at home and should not be enforced by the iron fist of government.

  8. Thomas Jefferson famously said "That government governs best which governs least." Libertarians tend to take this to mean that all government is bad. Liberals tend to just ignore it. We should read it--very carefully.

    I believe government has necessary functions. Every successful country has a vibrant government. I believe Jefferson is telling us that government must deliver efficiently. Neither the anarchy of Afghanistan nor the red tape of Cuba is a successful model.

    DHJ has written powerfully about the major role of big money in both our political parties. I largely agree with that analysis. Our democracy stands in serious danger of sliding into plutocracy. However, I cannot accept that the alternative is to abandon necessary functions of government.

    I work in government, and i accept the old truism that "There is the right way, the wrong way, and the government way." Obviously, when the "right way" is available, it should be accepted. Sometimes, life leaves us a choice between the "wrong way" and the "government way." I believe that healthcare is in the latter tradeoff. When Clinton's health plan was defeated in 1993, the cry was "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." Well, it was broken then, and is even more broken now. Unfortunately, the 2010 version of the fix was indeed significantly shaped by big money. So the challenge is, how can we make it better? How can we get that better way passed through Congress?

    The "government way" is rarely a thing of beauty, but its blunt utilitarianism is sometimes the least ugly option around.

  9. While Craig may be correct in stating that my view is libertarian, it does not follow that I am interested in anarchy but rather the legitimate role of government. I too think that there are legitimate purposes for government, I just think that this government resembles Medusa. I think there are only two basic roles of government. One is protect the people from those outside of its borders. The second purpose is to protect its people from harming one another. In other words, if this was a sporting event, I would be interested in the participants in the sporting event not the referees. The referees are needed for "fairness", but they are not the reason for the event. When the event becomes about the referees, then the game is over.

    By the way, how is wealth created and poverty minimized? This seems to be the crux of this discussion, but it is assumed to happen and just needs to be tweaked (by political geniuses) in order to get the a fairer distribution of the wealth. Without the creation of wealth, there is nothing to spread. So, my simple question is how is wealth created to begin with?