“Loyal But Principled Opposition.”
Mere hours after Barack Obama won the presidency and 72,000,000 Americans showed their best O faces, House and Senate Republicans were already issuing communiqués from their bunkers. Several of them, while making a pretense of welcoming the new executive branch, vowed to put up “loyal but principled opposition.”
Now let’s ignore for the moment the laughable assumption that today’s Republicans would actually have a prayer of recognizing much less appreciating anything even remotely akin to a principle and concentrate, instead, on the word “loyal.”
“Loyal but principled opposition” could be interpreted in a multiplicity of ways. But however you interpret it, it’s become a cliché in political circles that’s as common as “reaching across the aisle” or “culture of corruption.” We tend to hear it every four years or so, especially from Republicans when they’re in the minority when faced with an incoming Democratic administration.
It’s still amazing to me that not one journalist or major blogger on either side or any in between has ever analyzed the obviously true meaning of that word when used in this context.
“Loyal” in this instance obviously means loyal to the party, putting the needs of the country, a state or a district, at best, a distant second. And even a distant second is optimistic when one considers that the needs of We the People are woefully matched up against those of corporations, large special interest groups and the shock troops known as lobbyists that are deployed on Capitol Hill in a neverending human wave.
Indeed, in today’s entrenched corruption, it’s virtually impossible to divine which priorities are more paramount- their party’s ideology or the transient and longterm interests of well-moneyed lobbyists. Or is there even a difference?
Whatever your conclusion, one fact remains hidden in plain sight: Republicans will unhesitatingly put the skids on the most progressive and necessary legislation since it tends to trump their laissez faire, scorched earth mantra whether it’s driven by bribe money, party ideology or just plain, pig-head stupidity, meanness and/or stubbornness.
Even before President Obama’s inauguration, Republicans were playing immature tit-for-tat games such as, “If you block Roland Burris, we’ll block Al Franken” and “If Holder doesn’t promise to not go after our war criminals, we’ll block his nomination”, as if seating elected and appointed officials is just the political version of Hollywood Squares.
If President Obama is smart, he’ll learn from this. Four years in the US Senate plus seven more in the Illinois legislature should’ve been more than enough to educate him in the futility of reaching across the aisle to most Republicans. His calls for bipartisanship could be genuine and he really is that naïve, Or, it could be a political ploy and he’s giving the GOP one chance and one chance only before they chop his hand off. Then he would be justified in saying, “Fuck you, you had your chance.” With 59 seats under Democratic / Independent control in the Senate, it’s not as if the Republicans are in much of a bargaining position.
The phrase “loyal but principled” opposition used to be interpreted thusly: A loyalty to the Constitution and/or one’s personal ideology when confronting those in power.
Only a naïf would continue to define this phrase in such a way, especially considering the shenanigans we’ve seen from the likes of Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Dennis Hastert and other Republican crooks. Just as Eric Holder ought to lie to the minority Republicans (who still think they’re in charge) on the Judiciary Committee and tell them whatever they want to hear then do his damned job prosecuting war criminals, Barack Obama should do the same thing to Republicans who were already circling their diminished wagon train hours after he won the election.
“Sure, I’ll reach across the aisle and include you in the legislative process. But the minute I see a machete come out, all bets are off and you're back at the kiddie table.”
Then they can explain to their constituency why they haven’t voted on anything that could conceivably do this country the good that it deserves and needs. Let them see how far the hollowed-out phrase “loyal but principled opposition” gets them on election day when it only translates to more unemployment, deeper debt and more foreclosures.