The Republicans have developed a good con game, acting as if they are strategic whizzes, and the media tend to play along with them, keeping Democrats off-balance and on the defensive. What is worse is that the neoliberals within the Democratic party ranks also play along with this charade since it enables them to prevent the party from adopting more progressive stances
As an example, during the period when the Graham-Cassidy bill was being promoted, Lindsey Graham talked a good game about how support for his bill was growing. He also crowed that what would help it get passed was Bernie Sanders unveiling his own single-payer plan a couple of weeks earlier. Graham said that this was a “gift from the political gods” for his own bill because it enabled him to argue that the choice was between single payer or his bill.
Some Democrats criticized Sanders for bringing forward his bill at this time and for agreeing to a debate with Sanders and Cassidy on Monday, saying that this played right into Republican hands. For such people, it is never the right time to promote really progressive ideas because it will always ‘play into Republican hands’. But that is ridiculous. If the moment when Republicans are trying to gut even the lousy system we currently have is not the time to discuss a real alternative, when is it? Furthermore, during the debate Sanders was able to make six important points about why his system was better
So what happened? The Graham-Cassidy bill went down in flames.
The fact is that the grand Republican strategy is to simply appeal to their base rhetorically, using racism and sexism and homophobia and xenophobia to mask the fact that they are working on behalf of the oligarchy. But what the Democratic base wants are things like universal health care, equal justice for people of color and immigrants, and higher minimum wages. These are clearly good things. So the other prong of this Republican so-called strategy is to get the neoliberal nervous Nellies among the Democrats to prevent the party from appealing to its own base, and instead to put its efforts into winning over those mythical creatures called ‘independents’ by toning down any progressive message. So we end up with the endless triangulation politics of the Clintons and the like.
The Republicans are a party that in bankrupt both intellectually and morally, their failure masked by bravado and posturing. Their bluff should be called.