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Now that the shutdown has ended, I think it is a good time for Republicans to start thinking what went wrong and to learn from their mistakes. What were some of these mistakes? Two of them jump out.

The first one involves the law of timing. John Maxwell in his book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” defines this way,

“When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go. Every leader makes a move; there are really only four outcomes that can result:
The wrong action at the wrong time leads to disaster;
The right action at the wrong time leads to resistance;
The wrong action at the right time is a mistake;
The right action at the right time results in success.”

With hindsight always being 20/20, I think this is the first question that needed to be asked, “Was the timing right?”

Upon further reflection, the answer is no. If the Affordable Healthcare Act was more than six months old, then the timing would have been perfect, because more and more people would have been angry about the fact that their premiums will be more than doubled. More and more people are feeling that they have been lied to, once again by their elected officials. For more on the law of timing, but through the lens of game theory, Kristen Soltis Anderson had written an interesting post about the outcomes of the shutdown. A link to her article is found here. (H/T Jim Geraghty, National Review Online, Campaign Spot).   As Jim Geraghty, pointed out, in commenting about Mrs. Anderson’s post, you would need either 21 Senate Democrats and 58 House Democrats to join the Republicans in order to override any Presidential veto or you would need 5 Senate Democrats and convince the President not to veto the bill.

The problem is that no Democrat has the incentive to admit that the Act was bad because as the President once commented that there are glitches in the system. However, when glitches persist and more people continue to see their premiums double in costs in this tight economy, especially in an upcoming election year, then House and Senate Democrats will be accountable for their support on a poorly written legislative bill.

The second and final mistake involves one on not focusing on the real issues. The real issue is that we had to increase the debt ceiling once again due to the mandatory spending required in our entitlement programs. Here, Congressional Republicans should have argued that a nation cannot continue raising its debt ceiling indefinitely. To use a real world example, if a business is continuously requesting a refinancing of the debt, there will come a point where the bank, will say, “Enough is enough. No more.”

There will come a time where those who hold our debt will believe that we will not meet our obligations to pay them. When that happens, what will Congress do? During this shutdown, our focus should have been on the long-term financial health of this county and not on the Affordable Healthcare Act.

So, where do Republicans go from here? In one word: solutions. Focus on identifying the spending problems and begin to offer solutions. Frame the issues. When Democrats challenge the solutions as heartless and cruel, challenge them to offer their solutions to these problems. If their response is that there is no problem, expose their foolishness. Challenge the media as well. Become proactive, not passive. Learn from the mistakes of this shutdown and move on.

  • http://www.dcdispatches.us/ Jason I. Poblete

    When the Affordable Care Act was brought to the House floor for consideration and debate, the Democratic-controlled House only allowed for one hour of debate and no amendments. Any Democrat that failed to support the measure was excoriated. Ask former Rep. Stupak (D-Mich.).

    Working for over two decades in the Belly of the Beast has taught me a few things that your post reminded me of:

    (1) If your a conservative, there is never a good time to lead because the media in this town, most of the think tanks, universities, and interest groups will be against you. I place the blame for this shutdown squarely on the front step of both political parties, with a larger share on the Democratic Caucus and the Republicans for failing to raise the issue sooner. The GOP Conference in the House had many plans to move forward on reform, Ryan, Nunes, but no one care to listen.

    (2) Once a program or agency is created, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to stop the Executive Branch from implementing the law that instituted it. The Affordable Care Act will likely be with us for some time, at least some vestige of it if the courts throw some of it out. Damage has been done. It will take some time to undo the damage. Remember, this has been ongoing since the late 1930s when President Roosevelt signed the law that created Social Security. The battle is the same, the role of the Federal Government in our Republic. It has nothing to do with “caring” for those less fortunate, who does not want to do that but a social or political troglodyte? It is about the role of the federal government versus the state, and individual rights versus collectivism.

    Finally, (3) Republicans do a good job eating their own for breakfast, dinner, lunch and dessert. We should make a concerted effort to focus on our message and resist every urge to attack fellow Republicans in public. There are ways to deal with our internal issues, the same issues every political organization needs to deal with. For the foreseeable future we have a clear and present danger to the U.S., and it is not a terrorist. It is $17,000,000,000,000 of federal debt that soon will be worth a lot more than our GDP. We have the statists to thank for that, decades of legislating a larger federal government with both Democrats and Republicans spending like alcoholics on a bender. There is a new generation of Republican, and indeed some Democrats, that want to tackle this problem. The old GOP needs to allow it or step aside.

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