inessential by Brent Simmons

Why Not Declare Victory?

I try — honestly, in good faith — to understand the Republican party and its leaders.

Perhaps someone can help me. Here’s one of my big questions: why doesn’t the Republican party do the traditional thing, which is to declare victory when it gets its way?

Winning, after all, looks good, and tends to be rewarded at the polls. But, more importantly, winning is winning. If you got your way, you got your way. And it makes it easier to keep getting your way.

Obvious example

The Affordable Care Act is a Republican health care plan. It preserves private medical insurance and ensures personal responsibility. It could be called the “no more freeloaders” plan.

It’s an evolution of plans by the Heritage Foundation and Bob Dole; it’s very similar to the plan that Republican Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts.

Were I a Republican in Congress, I would have been yelling from the hills. “Guess who figured out how to insure all Americans. Republicans! Guess who made it so even people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance. Republicans! Guess who figured out how to slow the rising cost of health care. Republicans!”

I would have voted for it and made sure everyone knew that this was a historic Republican victory. I would have made sure everyone knew that Republicans have great ideas that make life better for every single American, not just rich people.

And then, with the wind at my back, and a Democratic Congress and administration apparently keen to pass and implement Republican ideas, I would have gone on to the next one. (Perhaps regarding immigration or tax reform.)

I still don’t understand why it didn’t happen this way. It seemed like such a slam-dunk.

More recent example

Democrats in Congress reluctantly agreed to pass a CR that kept spending at sequester levels. Democrats would like to spend more money; Republicans don’t want to. Democrats caved on this completely.

Why not declare victory? “We got the Democrats to agree to our preferred level of spending, and we agreed to continue to fund the government. We won, because Republican ideas on spending are good for America and even Democrats recognized that.”

Done, right?

And then — again, with the wind at my back, with me looking like a winner and Democrats so willing to make deals — I would have taken up entitlement reform.

But that’s not how it happens

Clearly I’m naive. There is something, or many somethings, I don’t get.