Millions of Americans who voted against President Obama’s policies on Nov. 4 are no doubt puzzled by the Republican Party’s cowardice in responding to attacks on the Constitution by Obama. It appears the Republicans are again afflicted by a peculiar species of political disorientation, the Stockholm Syndrome.
The Stockholm Syndrome in this case is a natural byproduct of Republican Party’s imprisonment for six long years in the Barack Obama-Harry Reid Fun House, where no Republican proposal ever enjoyed a floor debate or a roll call vote. Although they now do have majority control of both houses of Congress, they have forgotten how to legislate. The mere threat of an Obama veto, like the threat of a Harry Reid temper tantrum, is enough to send Republicans back to the drawing boards in search of a more “bipartisan solution.”
In 1994, Republicans in the House of Representatives got tired of living in the shadow of perpetual irrelevance. They created and then campaigned on the “Contract with America,” a series of pledges on specific policy issues. Running against the cynicism and conventional wisdom of the day, they won 26 new seats in the House and became the House majority for the first time in 40 years.
What Republicans need now is not a new “contract” but a new backbone. Republicans are confronted by a deeply unpopular president whose policies have been repudiated by the Nov. 4 election, yet they cannot summon the courage to defund an unconstitutional edict that even many prominent Democrats think is deeply troubling.
How else to explain this behavior except as a form of mental illness? It defies logic and any test of political astuteness. Surely, it is the Stockholm Syndrome at work. So, we should temper our outrage and instead find ways to liberate these sad and disoriented prisoners from their mental affliction.
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Instead of yelling “Cowards!” at this group of impotent leaders, we need to find a more constructive way to awaken them from their hypnotic trance. And, of course, they all have citizens back home in their states and districts who might be so upset by this spectacle they could be inspired to administer either a healing bromide or a swift kick in the behind. As the old saying goes, if they can’t see the light, maybe they can feel the heat.
Fortunately, there is a path out of this maze, a compass that every elected official has been given and has sworn to follow. Each member of Congress has a compass called the U.S. Constitution. Each takes an oath of office to defend and protect that Constitution. Today that Constitution is under direct assault by the president of the United States, and the only question – I repeat, the only question – is whether members of Congress will fulfill their oaths to defend and protect that Constitution.
Now, I confess, that may sound simplistic, the appeal to the Constitution. But if each Republican in Congress were forced to actually re-read the Constitution and then answer the question, “Is anything more important than deterring a direct attack on the Constitution?,” that would be the first step in escaping from Stockholm. Because the first step to escaping Stockholm is recognizing you are in Stockholm and what that means: It means you must stop trying to please your captors and start trying instead to keep your oath of office.
In truth, the Stockholm Syndrome goes much deeper than a few tone-deaf leaders in Congress. In a very real sense, for at least two generations, all of us have been willing accomplices in the incremental sabotage of the Constitution. We have been like the frogs in the pan with the cooking temperature increased slowly; we hardly noticed that we were the featured entree for the progressives’ banquet.
The progressives have been chipping away at the pillars of the Constitution for 100 years, and with each small retreat, we say, that’s not good but we can adjust. The water in the pan became warmer and warmer, and our leaders told us to stop worrying and enjoy the Jacuzzi. As the temperature reaches a boiling point, questions arise.
Now, with Obama’s bold unilateralism, all but the willfully blind can see that the true fate of constitutional government is not going to be a happy one – and will not resemble the legacy we expected to bequeath to our grandchildren.
Only the Stockholm Syndrome can explain the willful blindness of Republican leaders to the consequences of their impotent “words not deeds” strategy, a strategy makes Republicans willing co-conspirators in the assassination of the Constitution. They believe they have more in common with their captors and, thus, see no reason to panic. There is precious little time remaining to free them from their illusions.
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