The Republican Party is doing great when you realize what game they are playing. IMAGE: xyclopsoft.com, original artwork: Bill Watterson
The Republican Party gets criticized a lot in this space, but really, it’s a matter of perspective. We don’t criticize Proust scholars for their bad throwing arms, nor do we knock right-fielders for their poor argument construction. The Republican Party is bad at governing, but they aren’t really trying to govern in any traditional sense of the word. What they are doing—and what they are great at—is playing Calvinball.
If you don’t know what Calvinball is, you have my permission to take the rest of the day off and spend your afternoon reading Calvin and Hobbes comics (don’t worry, I checked with your boss, it’s cool). Calvinball is Calvin and Hobbes’ favorite game: the only rule is that you can’t play the same way twice.
The Republican Party is fantastic at this: Two years ago, the game was that the Republican Party would allow the country to default on its debt if their demands weren’t met. To (narrowly) avoid that debacle, the Republicans and Democrats made up a new game: either we agree on a budget deal or we punch the country in the face (the sequester). That game ended with the sequester. Now the Republican Party has cooked up a new game: The government will shutdown unless Democrats undo their biggest achievement of this presidency (Obamacare). Wasn’t Obamacare, the biggest issue in the last election? Sure, but new rule: elections don’t matter if we all pretend they don’t (stodgy John McCain is being a spoil sport with that one).
The Republican Party is really quite good at what they do. The only thing that we the people might want to consider is that we seem to have hired them for the wrong job.