Be Careful What You Wish For

Winning is always better than losing. It's true in sports. It's true in the financial world. And it is especially true in politics. Let's face it, they don't hand out consolation prizes in politics. Andrew Jackson said it best, to the victor belong the spoils. When you win in politics, you get ALL the power. You can make the government do what you want it to do, you can shape the destiny of an entire country.

Thing is, there are risks involved when you hold all the power. With authority comes responsibility. It is true that elections have consequences. But it is equally true that government action also has consequences. If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, the economy will feel the effects. In this case, the incoming administration has promised that it will completely reverse the direction in which government policy has been headed over the past eight years. I have no doubt that those who will be in charge are absolutely convinced that the changes they envision for America will, to quote our Fearless Leader, "make America great again.". But in the words of Ira Gershwin in Porgy and Bess, "it ain't necessarily so!". Sometimes even the best plans don't pan out.

What the impending Trump Era will bring, I can't even begin to guess. What I DO know, however, is that when the Republican Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act, the next President will sign that legislation. The real question before the house is about what effect that repeal will have. Nobody knows for sure, not even brainiacs like Speaker Ryan. But it's safe to say that millions of Americans who are presently covered by health insurance will lose it. And the point is that there will be consequences as a result. For instance, how will the insurance industry respond to the repeal? There will be added pressures placed on the American health care system, how will this affect all of us? What will hospitals do when poor people end up in their emergency rooms, especially when it almost certain that these people will not be able to pay for what will unquestionably be astronomical medical bills? Will hospitals turn them away? Will they die? What happens to people with previously existing conditions or young people 26 and under who live at home with their parents, will they be excluded from coverage as they had been previously? One thing we know for sure. When that repeal legislation is passed, the Trump Administration must be held responsible for the consequences. That is the price of holding power.

Winning is a wonderful thing, even if it's a small and inconclusive victory. But victory does not always presage a bright and shining future. George W. Bush eked out a narrow Electoral College victory in 2000. To make good news even better, the Republicans did very well in the 2002 mid-term elections. But by 2008, the Democrats had taken back the White House, achieved a filibuster-proof Senate and had a large majority in the House of Representatives. Within two years, the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress and now have lost the Presidency as well. It would seem that, in American politics at any rate, what goes around DOES come around!

Many Republicans have been unrestrained in their joy and glee. They've been doing the political happy dance since the last piece of the Electoral College puzzle fell into place for them. And that's fine. A little joyous celebration IS in order when you win! All I'm saying is that now, Republicans, the burden falls on YOU. Yes, you can take credit for all the happy news, the beneficial outcomes, the policy triumphs. But at the same time, you have to take responsibility for everything that goes wrong too!

Having achieved only the narrowest of victories, the question Republicans will face in the years ahead is whether the American people bought into all their programs and policies or whether they simply embraced the personality of one Donald John Trump. Do the American people really want to go where Republican leaders want to take us? Republicans have very specific ideas on issues like abortion, tax strategy, income inequality, right-to-work laws, Planned Parenthood, the environment, foreign policy, gay rights and marriage equality. Did the American people vote the way they did because they accepted Republican positions on the issues? Or were they simply turned off by an extraordinary but flawed candidate who never seemed able to articulate a good reason for the American people to vote for her? I confess I don't know. But if the Republicans misread those election returns, their happy dance may very well be a thing of the past a lot sooner than they had expected!

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