Roger Chapin

Surely it would now seem the odds are against any kind of substantive cooperation between Republicans in the new Congress and the President. But it just may be that the stars are aligning for 2012 in such a way as to make meaningful compromise a practical alternative to gridlock.

Gridlock could prevent the necessary conditions from developing that would revive the economy before the 2012 election, thus dooming Obama’s reelection prospects. The blame will largely fall on the Democrats and voters will decide the only way to fix things is to finish the job they just started. But if this is so, what incentive would the Republicans have to compromise? Rather, let the Democrats continue to stew in their own juice. From the perspective of fiercely partisan politicos, this is a hard mindset to change – especially given that the Republicans are totally focused on recapturing the Senate and the White House in 2012.

There is, however, one potentially overriding issue that sadly has yet to surface, but which could and should prompt the Republicans to overwhelmingly come down on the side of compromise. That’s our national security and the urgency of eliminating the fast-emerging prospect of a nuclear doomsday right here in America. If this comes to pass, nothing else will matter.

Be aware that a single nuclear missile fired from a freighter off the U.S. coast and detonated some 300 miles above Kansas could put virtually our entire country back into the early 1800’s. The resulting electromagnetic pulse effect (EMP) could knock out most of our computers and electronics, shutting down the electric grid system and leaving us without power, light, heat, water, transportation and most agriculture. The chairman of the congressionally authorized EMP Commission estimated 70 to 90% of our entire population would die from starvation and disease within one year. And given the fanatical and totally irrational, apocalyptic mentality of the radical Islamists, such an EMP attack is not just a possibility, it’s a probability. From the radicals’ horribly warped perspective, no matter how massively we retaliated, they’d still be the winners.

The Iranians are fully mindful that a Republican president in 2013 could quickly move to destroy their nuclear capabilities while also attempting to engineer an overthrow of their radical government. This makes it all the more likely that they will very soon seize what could be their short window of opportunity for launching an EMP attack and “bring about a world without America” as Ahmadinejad has boasted. This very real threat to our own survival, even if only a 10% chance – I believe it’s closer to 50%, could open the door to an absolutely essential and very possibly nation-saving grand bargain in Washington.

For his part, the President will have a major problem in 2012 if the Afghan war is still going strong, particularly in that he is clearly not willing to do what it will take to prevail, as unfortunately is hardly anyone else. But the President will still need Republican cover if he’s to exit Afghanistan without being accused of cutting and running.

Far more critical, however, to America’s national security interests is preventing Iran from going nuclear. If the leaderless Republicans will regain their traditional instincts and make destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities a burning issue, they could mobilize huge grassroots support and possibly work out a deal with Obama in exchange for their playing ball on Afghanistan. In all reality, Obama would be doing himself a very big favor, because if he allows Iran to go nuclear the Republicans could use this with devastating effect against the Democrats in 2012.

The Republicans could sweeten the deal by also collaborating on substantial reductions in spending and the size of the deficits, which otherwise will again be extremely damaging to the Democrats in 2012. 5% annual, across-the-board spending cuts in the federal budget for each of the next two years would be a good way to start. Republican cooperation in reducing U.S. energy dependence is another area of critically important potential compromise.

While it’s true that in the jaundiced eyes of many hard-nosed Republican warriors such a grand bargain could deprive them of some ammunition in 2012; what good is an election if hardly anyone is still around to vote? But if there is an election, I would also argue that “just say no” Republicans better watch their backsides in the 2012 primaries.

The bottom line is – no matter whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, that this is a time of grave and unprecedented danger to our nation. Accordingly, the concept of a grand bargain deserves the most serious attention and a full-fledged national debate both in the new Congress and the media. Nothing less than the very survival of our beloved country is at stake. So hopefully the patriots will trump the pinheads.

Let the debate begin!


Roger Chapin

Roger Chapin has had a distinguished and varied career in both the nonprofit and entrepreneurial worlds.