Krugman has an interesting column here discussing the failure of the Republican party. It quite mirrors something I've been thinking about for a few weeks. The Republicans are fond of saying they had no voice in the health care legislation that was passed, and in a way that's true. And it's also completely their fault. Consider a situation in which you get 4 people together and give them a job of planning a trip. The trip will be planned, that is a foregone conclusion. It's a necessary trip. And besides, you're just a little bit in charge, just enough to say that it will happen. None of the 4 people agree on the trip. Person A wants to go to California, B wants Florida, but C and D both not only don't want to go, they stand in the middle of the room with their hands over their ears screaming "I don't wanna go on a trip!" over and over and over. Eventually the trip takes place, and you go to Wisconsin, because it's a compromise between California and Florida. But Person C and D had no real say in where the trip was. If they had, perhaps you'd have ended up in Mexico, or Canada. But they had no say. Why? Because they refused to participate in the discussion. They seemed to feel that if they yelled loud enough, and long enough, you'd cancel the trip.
Now the trip (healthcare reform) happened because Dems had a majority in both house and senate and a Dem president. Republicans hated that. That makes sense - from their point of view they should hate it. But a representative, 2 party system of government is supposed to be a government of compromise. In situations like this, one party will get its way, but the other influences that. They have a voice in what comes out - they block what they really hate, enable what they can agree on, and generally have a voice, even if they don't get to pick if the trip happens or not. But that isn't what happened - Republicans screamed "No" over and over and the compromises took place between elements of the Democratic party (person A and B in our example) rather than between Dems and Republicans. And that is truly too bad. Because, as Krugman points out, the country needs two opposed, rational parties working together - disagreeing and compromising, to work best. And one of those parties has utterly failed its end of the deal. This was probably a way to try to set up the president and the Dems for the next elections ("We fought them all the way and it's all their fault!") but that just makes the failure all the more cynical.
It doesn't bother, or surprise me, at all that Republicans opposed Democratic ideas for health care reform. It bothers me that they refused to contribute anything at all to reform.