Has it taught Republicans how to govern?
Over at Politico Magazine, conservative activists Michael Needham and Jacob Reses opine that the recent crash, seeming death, and creaky resurrection of the Ryancare bill shouldn’t be viewed in the light of years of GOP promises to repeal Obamacare.
In that light, the House-passed bill is a major disappointment and a betrayal.
Rather, the two men argue, the experience should be viewed as a helpful turning-point, wherein Republicans were forced to wake up and realize what they must do to govern, namely, negotiate among themselves—as opposed to waiting for their leaders to do all the hard thinking for them. Speaker Paul Ryan’s “binary choice,” take-it-or-leave-it strategy failed so spectacularly that rank-and-file Republicans were forced to take up the reins and do the leading instead.
Needham and Reses write:
A governing Republican Party cannot paper its divides over. It must instead channel and direct them, promoting wherever possible authentic negotiation between blocs of members no longer willing to defer to committees of jurisdiction or binary choices imposed by leadership and eager instead to work out deals themselves. The direct negotiations between the Tuesday Group and the Freedom Caucus over health care advanced the repeal effort and should serve as a working model for legislating on the most important and contentious matters in the 115th Congress, with other blocs invited to join the debate. No longer can the heavy lifting be done by the few in elected leadership or the committees, which is perhaps as it should be in the people’s House. But making such a system work will require each bloc to figure out what it wants, and then negotiate accordingly.
In particular, the authors contend, Republican ‘moderates’ must learn how to think and act as a group, just as the conservative and libertarian members of the House Freedom Caucus have learned to do. For too long, so-called moderates have contented themselves to be the real obstacles to conservative priorities without having to publicly acknowledge or be held accountable for the fact. Having to govern forces these members to state and defend their priorities openly. That’s a good thing.
Dean Clancy, a former senior official in the White House and Congress, writes on U.S. health reform, budget, and constitutional issues. Follow him at deanclancy.com or on twitter @deanclancy.