Republicans Are Not Listening to the Public

Republicans Are Not Listening to the Public

Op-Ed: After a bad showing in the midterms, what story are Republicans telling themselves now?

The past few weeks have seen President Donald Trump, at least in part, making a number of his most controversial demands. The administration is trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. It is pushing a tax plan that largely benefits the wealthy. It is pulling back from the Iran nuclear deal. And Trump is working on a deal with North Korea’s authoritarian leader that could be a game changer in the nuclear stand-off.

But none of those actions have been particularly popular with the public, even with Trump’s base. The failure to deliver on those promises is what Democratic leadership in Congress is trying to explain as they try to cobble together a legislative package so that they can push the bill through to Trump’s desk for signature.

Republicans, if you’re not following along, may be talking themselves into a crisis if the bill doesn’t meet the president’s expectations. This means that they have to convince themselves of what they want their voters to hear from them. Which raises the question: Why should they care what voters think right now?

It is not entirely unreasonable, however, to ask Republicans to keep listening to the public until a better message can be delivered–that is, until they can get past a major hurdle: getting their bill through the House and Senate.

There is no doubt that Trump will continue to make demands on Congress, but those demands are now a long way from being a reality. The GOP members who are making the demands are mostly in the minority–which means that they are unlikely to be held accountable by the voters who elected them. It is not at all unusual for a party to make a political demand for change, and then, once they have their foot in the door, to walk away. That is what happened with Obamacare repeal. Republicans in Congress were willing to go through with repeal, and then, once the bill was fully entrenched in law, they walked out.

It is difficult to make progress on a politically sensitive topic if you are the minority party. If Republicans want to continue working toward Obamacare repeal, they have to be able to convince a majority–in both the House and the Senate–that they deserve passage. That will mean making a series of political demands that the public will not easily

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