Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) concluded an impressive 21 hours and 19 minute speech last week, speaking through the night about the “Defund Obamacare” initiative that has taken flight in conservative circles. It’s a worthy cause – Obamacare is on track to become a bureaucratic nightmare for both doctors and patients.
However, one can’t help but question the strategy.
The Senate Democrats would never pass a law defunding their most well-known success during Obama’s two terms. Even if they did, it’s impossible to think of a case in which the President would then sign a law that defunds his name-bearing legislative achievement.
Cruz, though an outsider to Washington, knows this is true. But when Cruz, House Republicans, and other conservatives pretend as if it’s not, they’re only fooling those who aren’t thinking to the future. For once, those in Washington know something that many citizens don’t – this is all for publicity and fundraising.
In and of itself, that is not a problem. If Sen. Cruz truly has presidential aspirations, a long speech on the Senate floor is a brilliant way to rally support and achieve name recognition. Just ask Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., whose popularity has shot up since his 13-hour filibuster.
The problem, however, comes when Republicans and conservatives start blaming each other for being not “conservative enough.” “Somehow,” the accusation goes, “if you don’t support this futile tactic, you must like Obamacare.”
This is simply not true. When the Defund initiative fails, the next step to repeal is to elect more Republicans in battleground states. This movement doesn’t help that cause, and it even attacks moderate Republicans who are still against Obamacare, claiming they need to be challenged in primaries.
“I hate Obamacare,” Orrin Hatch, R-Utah told Associated Press. “I don’t blame anybody for doing what they can to try to kill it, but there should be an end game.”
Now, Senate Republicans and House Republicans are exchanging blows, accusing each other of waving the “white flag.” But if you know you’re going to lose, maybe waving the white flag is the first step toward achieving a better deal in the future?
The truth is, we are hurtling toward another government shutdown if Congress does not agree on a continuing resolution to fund current programs. If the government does shut down, American will blame both sides. But Republicans are still holding the weaker hand in this scenario.
Though Cruz and other Tea Party proponents of the Defund movement are correct in arguing that the majority of the country opposes Obamacare, the truth is that a larger majority opposes their tactics. Tea Party support has fallen to near-record low levels, says Gallup.
A recent Wall Street Journal editorial says it best: “The only real way to repeal the law is to win elections. Our strategy would be to conduct an island-hopping campaign that attacks the law’s vulnerable parts to help win those elections rather than invade the Japanese mainland.”
It is completely plausible (and quite common) for Americans to fully oppose Obamacare while hesitating to endorse Cruz’s tactics. He may be pursuing a good cause, but those who disagree with his style should not be ostracized from the party. Instead, we should all be focusing on the looming financial crisis in the near future.