Will the GOP seize its historic mandate to legislate according to conservative principles, or, mistaking weakness for magnanimity in the pink clouds of victory, will it succumb to the siren song of "compromise"?
If history is any guide -- and I hope it's not, and maybe the tea party will make the difference -- sooner or later, the GOP will again be lured by wily Democrats onto the rocks of compromise. As if congenitally crippled by more manners than necessary and a dearth of street(fighter) smarts, Republicans have traditionally been easy marks for that corny old con of "bipartisanship," inspiring them to "reach across the aisle" only to have their arms, not to mention their promises to constituents, broken.Predictably, the pressure's already mounting in the media. Headlined pleas were piling up even before the final votes were tallied, as if to stymie the force of the political tsunami washing away the foundations of the Obama State. "Rand Paul's big Senate test: Can tea party compromise?" (Christian Science Monitor); "Reid: `Legislation is the Art of Compromise'" (CBS); and, my favorite, "Republicans must compromise to win enduring majority" (TheStreet.com).
Enduring Democratic majority, that is.
The fact is, compromise between diametrically opposed world views -- in this political case, the state's view (Democrats) versus the individual's view (Republicans) -- is just a nice word for the ploy Democrats use when necessary to leverage any disparity in strength into an asset. When they're strong, they sound like President Obama, who just a few weeks ago described compromise, Democrat-style: "We don't mind the Republicans joining us," he said. "They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back." When they're weak, Democrats make mournful little appeals to "comity" and "civility" that Republicans can't seem to ignore, especially with the media piping up with the manufactured threat of "gridlock" -- another creaky ploy. Honestly, who really believes the country can't wait just a little longer for another thousand new pages of congressional laws?
If our new Republicans are as gullible as our old ones, instead of cutting taxes across the board, they just might "compromise" with Democrats, and that's the end of that. Or instead of refusing to raise the national debt ceiling another trillion dollars, they just might "compromise" with Democrats and up it goes. Or instead of repealing Obamacare, they just might "compromise" with Democrats and fine-tune a few colossal programs. When all the votes are cast and backs patted, of course, "compromise" is a poor substitute for principle. But all we can do now is hope for change: that the GOP, backed by the tea party, stands strong this time even in the face of Democratic accusations that it is playing "politics as usual," or acting like the "Party of No." Because it's a sure thing that such accusations are on their way. Indeed, even as voters were still heading to the polls on Tuesday, Michelle Malkin noted the Democratic National Committee had already released talking points that attacked Republican leaders who "are not willing to compromise."
Of course, that's precisely how so many Republicans got elected in the first place. "We are determined to stop the agenda that Americans have rejected and turn the ship around," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday. Which sounds great, robust and uncompromising. But look out: In a sign of what may be an unfolding Democratic strategy or bunker mentality, or both, President Obama followed up at his White House press conference by rejecting outright the notion that his agenda had anything at all to do with the election that gave Republicans their historic gains. Rather, he insisted, the vote reflected the frustration of Americans over the slow pace of his agenda -- another point over which there is no place for compromise.
There are more, as Malkin noted: "No more compromising bailouts in times of crisis. No more compromising conservative principles for D.C. party elites. No more compromising the American economy for left-wing special interests." No more compromising.
And so what if they call the GOP the "Party of No"?
The Party of No Compromise is the Party of Principle.