Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio)

John Boehner and the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives might single-handedly ensure Barack Obama another four years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Democrats have been claiming for months that the cause of Washington’s legislative dysfunction is the hijacking of the GOP by the Tea Party. The truth about the breakdown in the streets of our nation’s capital is much more complicated and convoluted than that, but Republican members of Congress have made it easy for such an accusation to seem valid with their absolute mishandling of the recent payroll tax debate.

The smear of late against both Republicans and conservatives alike is that those to the right of the political spectrum want to protect millionaires and billionaires at the expense of middle and lower-class citizens, while liberals appear to be the champions of the middle-class.  President Obama was given an early Christmas present by the Republican-controlled House when they strengthened this partisan rhetoric by originally opposing the bipartisan compromise reached by the Senate, merely to eventually fold under the pressure and agree to a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday.

If more conservatives are to be elected come November 2012, the conservatives who already hold positions in Washington must stop thinking in the short term and start planning for the long term.  That old adage of “pick your battles” is a lesson that Boehner and his fellow GOP members in the House should take to heart.  American voters are already turned off by the Washington politics that both parties engage in, but Republicans must be extra cautious in the coming months.  No matter whom the Republicans choose as their nominee for president, the battle for the White House will be a tough one.

David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN, wrote in an article recently that, “What [Obama] does best, as we have learned, is campaign. In domestic affairs, he has been far better at that than governing. He and his team apparently made a decision after the debt ceiling fight that he should be much less involved in leading Washington and instead hit the campaign trail. From my perspective, that’s not good for the country – witness how appallingly little has been accomplished this fall on jobs and the deficits – but it seems to be working for his re-election.”

During the elections of 2010, Republicans witnessed sweeping victories across the country at all levels of government. Due to those triumphs, John Boehner replaced Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, giving him the opportunity to counter-balance the progressive agenda of President Obama and his Democratic cohorts in Congress; however, the House Republicans thus far have squandered that opportunity, allowing Obama to go into 2012 with a legislative victory that benefits the president from a PR standpoint.  Despite the fact that President Obama has increased taxes, nationalized health care, and crippled economic recovery overall, he is now seen as a friend of the middle-class.  Honestly, Obama is about as much a friend of the middle-class as I am a viable candidate for the Miss America pageant.

Founding Father Patrick Henry once said, “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth – and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts.”  Candidate Obama promised hope and change to the American people, and they jumped on his message like a dog in heat.  Chris Matthews even claimed to have experienced a “thrill up his leg” after listening to Mr. Obama give a campaign speech. Media elites and liberals gawked at his stimulus package, claiming that its enormous size shouldn’t matter, a statement every college male wishes applied to them. Those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 indulged in the illusions of hope and are now witnessing the consequences of their blind, misplaced faith.

The United States is the country that gave the world its first true taste of freedom, and over the past two hundred years, we have spread that freedom around the globe. Nowadays, certain people, spearheaded by the Obama administration, would have you believe that America is to blame for all of Earth’s problems. Those same people would also have you believe that these problems can only be solved through bigger government and more regulation of our personal lives. We have forgotten a crucial truth our Founders understood, the truth that individual liberty – not more government involvement – has been and always will be the answer.

In 2012, the American public faces a fundamental test. Will we once again shut our eyes to the painful reality we find ourselves in or will we end our march to the song of the siren and choose liberty over tyranny?  With any luck, the most famous words of Patrick Henry will ring true afresh: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Joseph O. Turner // Mary Washington College // @odieturner