In fact, a sustained, principled and crucially immediate confrontation over Obamacare and budget is exactly what the public is demanding. Republican incumbents who seek compromise will instead get primary challenges, and almost immediately see those challengers draw enormous, internet-and-talk-radio generated resources. Any Republican who dares advance an earmark will similarly find themselves singled out and branded as the worst sort of RINO backslider. Any Republican who suggests that we need to meet the president half-way on the mandate or any other prominent feature of the last two years of radical innovation will find themselves surrounded by Tea Party activists at their next town hall meeting.
This is truly a changed political reality, one driven by the genuine and deserved alarm over the country's fiscal health and it's commitment to individual liberty. It isn't yet remotely clear that the GOP Congressional caucus has internalized this truth, but a large freshman class will be obliged to quickly educate their longer serving colleagues that they did not organize and work all these months in order to get a chance to sit at the end of a long table and cast dutiful votes.
John Boehner has a chance to take the energy and the new faces and recast the GOP, but he will have to do so quickly, even urgently. The plan has to be developed, laid down and executed. Senator McConnell will have to keep his colleagues from the sort of statements that destroy momentum, but the wily Kentuckian has proven himself very skilled at doing just that these past two years.
The Coalition in Great Britain has just announced a serious, wide-ranging and very painful budget. Though of course ours is not a parliamentary system that allows for such declarations followed by rapid enactment, a new majority can and should introduce and quickly pass it's priorities out of the House and on to the Senate. Senate Democrats can delay then reckoning but if they do, their colleagues on the ballot in 2012 will never recover.
There is a need for speed, not compromise and haggling. The GOP will ignore that need only at it's great political peril.