Failure Is Not An Option

This week’s Courier Herald column:

8 years ago, talk show host Rush Limbaugh made news by asserting that he hoped newly elected President Barack Obama would fail. It was a pre-emptive signal of permanent resistance to a President that was certain to pull the country hard to the left.

I like many others whose politics lean conservative had been a long time listener to Rush. This was the first time I can recall having a disagreement that was fundamental at its core principle with him. I wrote at the time:

“As a young conservative, I grew up listening to Ronald Reagan talking about America being a “shining city on a hill”.  About the hope and optimism of the American people overcoming fear.  About hard work and ingenuity of people united for a common purpose being able to tackle any problem that was put before us.  Above all, we were the party of ideas.

“As such, I am embarrassed when I see someone who presents himself to be a conservative leader “hope” for failure. It is unacceptable for those of us who believe in this country to pre-emptively raise a white flag of surrender with the only apparent motive to have the hollow pleasure of an “I told you so” should failure be achieved.   America deserves better from us.  America demands better from us.

“Our citizens face immediate struggles that most have not experienced in their lifetime.   If conservatives choose to watch from the sidelines and hope for failure, then we have become as pathetic as we are irrelevant.   I, for one, am confident enough in America that I can still hope that President Obama will succeed.  I hope you are too.”

We all know what happened over the past eight years, though we likely disagree over who should be blamed for escalating division and gridlock. Democrats have evidence that many Republicans never wanted to give President Obama a chance. Republicans have the famous “I won” photo op that demonstrated a Democratic party that controlled the White House and Congress with a filibuster proof Senate had no interest in reaching across the aisle nor governing from the center.

We are now again in a period of transition, where we remove our political shoes and put them squarely upon the other foot. As such, many who have made arguments in the past based on partisan advantage will now make equal and exactly opposite arguments over “fairness”, citing what the other party did during the past eight years.

One of the many problems with this is that we waste time looking backward and expending energy settling old scores rather than looking forward to solve today’s problems and building a better future. In short, no one ever got ahead while spending their energies trying to get even.

I’ve tried to be understanding of most of my Democratic friends’ reactions to losing this election. Republicans had months to get comfortable or at least make peace with the fact that Donald Trump is now the standard bearer for the party of Lincoln and Reagan. In my case, this was not easy, quick, or painless.

Most Democrats entered election day without any real thought that they might lose. They have many things about their own party and the direction of the country that they will need to make sense of and come to grips with.

To them, I would counsel that their hyper-overreaction to everything at the moment is hurting their cause, not helping. The knee jerk decision to “resist everything” has put the President Elect going to dinner without his press corps on the same level as potential national security threats or creeping neo-Nazi influence on the West Wing.

Their inability to differentiate between major and minor issues when it comes to criticism of the right has put all criticism on the same, easily dismissible plane. Much of the American public has heard “Wolf !” cried too many times. Pace yourselves. There will be plenty to criticize ahead. Pick and choose your battles.

As for my Republican friends, the American people have placed great trust in a party that is searching for direction without a clear consensus on specifics of governing. There will be a great desire to spend the next two years exerting an eye for an eye. Perhaps the better scripture to lead with in order to secure a long term tenure for the party is “Love thy neighbor.”

It is time to be dutiful to the general mandate to break up the self-serving nature of D.C. operations and enact policies that directly impact and improve the lives of middle America. There is no time to waste enacting vengeance nor rooting for failure.

We continue to live in perilous times. If America is to continue to serve as the shining city upon a hill, then failure is not an option.

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Saltycracker
Saltycracker

What I heard was Limbaugh wanted/expected the progressive and social democracy policies of Obama to fail, not the country. There is no purist candidate. This election was about a bloodless struggle for a Constitutional Republic as the party Republicans and Democrats shift left toward a Social Democracy. It is a great time to institute term limits and stop gerrymandering congressional districts. Unless we want the big metros, lobbyists and career politicians to make our decisions. The violent rejection and lawlessness from the left will escalate a pushback and division. Im hopeful Trump will put a team together to right this… Read more »

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

“It is a great time to institute term limits and stop gerrymandering congressional districts. Unless we want the big metros, lobbyists and career politicians to make our decisions.” Totally agree. Might this stop the concentration of Presidential elections fixating on just 12 specific states?

bethebalance
bethebalance

the politics of revenge makes gerrymandering perhaps the most difficult problem to solve. all i’ve ever heard is the justification of gerrymandering bc that’s how it’s always been played.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Agree. Speaking of difficult, how about, “End the Two Party System!”

rickday
rickday

We tried. Kinda…

Bart
Bart

Rush has explained the comment numerous times. He meant that he hoped Obama would fail at implementing certain policies. In hindsight, implementation succeeded, operation failed (unless we accept the notion that he wanted ObamaRobertsCare to fail as a means to end up with single payer). Along those lines, I hope Trump fails with some of his promises including the wall, random deportation and any move to deter states from passing marijuana reform legislation. This does not mean I want America to fail anymore than it did when many of us opposed some of Obama’s policy initiatives. Unfortunately the vicious cycle… Read more »

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

The best remark on Trump I’ve heard recently came from Obama “he is pragmatic”.

Example: I’m not warm on the wall but if he makes sections of it a fence or finds better ways to close sections of the border, that is not failure or a broken promise but being pragmatic on border security.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

P.S. Inviting Romney over: pragmatic.
Looking at adjusting proposed tax brackets: pragmatic.

CoastalCat
CoastalCat

Failure is not only an option, it is almost guaranteed. Trump has no experience at governing. His business expertise has cost thousands of jobs and bankrupted small businesses. He was just convicted of fraud. His Cabinet is setting up to be loyal white yes men. His top advisers are his children. He literally had no clue what being president entails. He’s fought more with theatre kids than ISIS.
What part of any of this gives you warm fuzzies for his chances?

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Just to play “correct the record” … Trump settled a fraud case with no admission of wrongdoing. He was not convicted of fraud.

CoastalCat
CoastalCat

wink wink nudge nudge

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Yeah. he’s already bragging about the millions he saved by settling out of court, lest he lose and be required to pay more.

Robbie
Robbie

To be sure I don’t want Trump to fail to the point that innocent Americans lose out and things fall into a dangerous collapse, but so many of Trump’s proposed policies and the people he’s surrounded himself with are so scary (or, should I say, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, racist) that I certainly hope he never gets to move forward with any of his plans, and I’m going to do my part (and encouraging others to do their part) in making sure he doesn’t get to implement his harmful agenda.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

I agree with you but my wording would be, “I don’t want Trump to succeed to the point that innocent Americans lose out and things fall into a dangerous collapse…”

Gregs
Gregs

I’m not sure anyone knows how (if) Trump will govern. He was (is) a Democrat who ran against the establishment of both parties. He was constantly at war with traditional Republican leadership, if fact, many of them reportedly voted for Hillary Clinton.

No one should root for his failure personally or otherwise. I didn’t vote for him and I don’t know the real message of his election for America. I will say that the talk radio, Fox News crowd rode the tiger, but they may end up inside of it.

Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it!

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

It reminds me of the old joke about convincing children to get their tonsils removed,”You can eat all the ice cream you want, after it’s done.”

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Gingrich conservatives ate the traditional Republican Party (my cue to exit the party). Then the Tea Party ate them. Now it appears the white nationalists are swallowing the Tea Party.

Each of these movements thought they were the real deal, while their successors arrive sooner and sooner.

gcp
gcp

Trump is an entertainer/ celebrity that ran as a populist. He has few, if any, workable ideas and no intellectual curiosity. He is, however, capable of forming a competent cabinet.

Now is the time for the republican congress to implement programs they have long advocated. Trump will agree to whatever congress passes mainly because he has no workable plans.

bethebalance
bethebalance

yes, i think he will often put himself in the role of a deal broker/ mediator, rather than on one side of the negotiations.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

“Trump will agree to whatever congress passes…” Until, of course McConnell or Ryan cross him and has to endure his Twitter Wrath. That’ll slow things down.

All they have to do is make sure Trump profits from anything they do and they’ll have no problem.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Nice Optimism, Charlie. But I fear the parties are so entrenched in party protectionism they can’t look at the reality of issues and truly legislate for the people instead of their own self-interests. Civility and respect have been sucked out of the process. Smackdowns are the preferred political media event. Traditional news has basically stopped reporting news, facts and instead shifted to opinion based reporting. Trump and Sanders appealed to people that did not believe in Party First. Party Politicians had that uncomfortable moment when they could no longer suck up and support the victor, ‘for the good of the… Read more »

rickday
rickday

pft…the D’s are going to be fighting a 2 front war like the GOP establishment did with the Tea Party.

Already, progressives are organizing at the congressional district level, and coordinating with other national districts with a massive grassroots program called DemEnter. OurRevolution™ knows of us and what we plan.

Which, basically, is to take over the county, district, state and national party.

Jeff Sessions…. niiiiiiiiiiice

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Tax cuts for the rich won’t change the fact that small city / rural manufacturing jobs not connected to agriculture or local natural resources will continue to migrant to cities, apart from the dwindling of manufacturing jobs overall due to technology. It’s as global a phenomenon as climate change (so I guess for Trump supporters that means movement to cities is a hoax created by the Chinese to undermine the US). And it’ll only cost the country the normalization of sociopathy, misogyny, appeals to white supremacism, and advocation of torture by Presidential candidates to prove it again. That’s certainly something… Read more »