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Very early Tuesday morning, just after the Office of Management and Budget told agencies to begin “the orderly shutdown” of the federal government, a frustrated Harry Reid went to the floor of the United States Senate.
The Senate—with its Democratic majority and its reasonable number of reasonable Republicans—stood ready to take action to prevent the shutdown from moving forward, he said.
But, the Nevada Democrat admitted, there was no indication that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives was prepared to join in a serious discussion.
Of the House Republicans, Reid said: “It is embarrassing that these people (who) are elected to represent the country are representing the Tea Party.”
Reid was griping.
But, to the extent that he is using the term “Tea Party” in the broadest sense—to refer to the money-and-media election complex that has developed to “police” Republican primaries—he was also stating the essential fact of the political moment.
There are a good number of reasonable Republicans in the House.
But they are not prepared to be reasonable. Though their party has little chance of prevailing in the quixotic bid to “defund Obamacare” via the government shutdown that began at midnight, it was too much to ask that they speak that “emperor-has-no-clothes” truth at the critical moment.
It is not because the American people have embraced the Ted Cruz fantasy. While it is true that many retain doubts about the Affordable Care Act, the broader issue of whether to halt its implementation was litigated last year.
The point of the 2012 election was clear enough. In case anyone missed it, the “numbers guy” in the House Republican Caucus, Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, joined the Republican ticket to make everything crystal clear.
“We made this campaign about big ideas and big issues,” said the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate.
He was right.
Republicans offered their alternative to the American people.
And they lost.
Ryan and Romney lost the popular vote by 5 million votes.
Ryan and Romney lost the Electoral College by an overwhelming 332-206 margin.
Ryan and Romney lost every swing state except North Carolina.
Obama got the mandate—a bigger percentage of the popular vote, in fact, than Presidents Kennedy in 1960, Nixon in 1968, Carter in 1976, Reagan in 1980, Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and Bush in 2000 and 2004.