In a piece written for AlterNet last week, famed liberal economist Robert Reich turned his sights towards the Tea Party, attributing the backlash against their antics in Washington to the fact that the American people “don’t like traitors to our system of government.”
The most tangible evidence of this backlash, as Reich points out, is the new Gallup poll which shows the Republican Party is now viewed favorably by only 28% of Americans, down from 38% in September — the lowest favorable rating measured since Gallup began studying these statistics.
Reich notes that as the GOP desperately looks for a way out of the corner they’ve backed themselves into, President Obama is giving them options — to abandon their hostage showdown of the Affordable Care act and agree to temporarily fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.
“What’s the lesson here? The radicals who tried to hijack America didn’t understand one very basic thing,” Reich writes. “While most Americans don’t like big government, Americans revere our system of government. That’s why even though a majority disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, a majority also disapprove of Republican tactics for repealing or delaying it.”
The message is clear: Sarah Palin’s school of dumbed-down political attrition seems to be wearing on the public, and as a result the entire GOP brand is in crisis.
No one likes big government. If you’re on the left, you worry about the military-industrial-congressional complex that’s spending zillions of dollars creating new weapons of mass destruction, spying on Americans, and killing innocents abroad. And you don’t like government interfering in your sex life, telling you how and when you can have an abortion, whom you can marry. If you’re on the right, you worry about taxes and regulations stifling innovation, out-of-control bureaucrats infringing on your freedom, and government deficits as far as the eye can see.
So when Tea Party Republicans, bankrolled by a handful of billionaires, began calling the Affordable Care Act a “wholesale takeover of American health care,” many Americans were inclined to believe them. Health care is such a huge and complicated system, affecting us and our families so intimately, that our inherent distrust of government makes us instinctively wary. It’s no accident we’re still the only advanced nation not to have universal health care. FDR decided against adding it to his plan for Social Security because he didn’t want to jeopardize the rest of the program; subsequent presidents never got close, at least until Obama.
Although imperfect, Reich argues that the ACA is the best solution to the current healthcare crisis. The prospect of fixing American healthcare shouldn’t be a choice, but a mandate.
Reich concedes that the prospect of big government is disliked by both the left and the right, but the grave strategical error from Tea Party Republicans was “to assume that Americans’ distrust of big government, and, by extension, the Affordable Care Act, would allow them to ride roughshod over the process we have for making laws.”
“By using tactics perceived to violate that system, the Tea Partiers have overplayed their hand,” Reich concludes. “If they don’t stop their recklessness, they’ll be out of the game.”
Read the full piece here.