The most dangerous game

Frank Yonkof

“Today, the federal government is simply trying to do too much.”

That was the conclusion reached by Bob McDonnell during the Republican response to the State of the Union address Wednesday night.

In a bold display of confidence, McDonnell issued the No. 1 GOP talking point by bashing the government for being too large.

How one campaigns on the promise of doing very little is something I’ll never come to understand. For what is the purpose of government if it provides minimal services for its people?

I’ve always wondered why the founding fathers made Congress so large if their only task was to agree that defense spending should remain high. Isn’t paying 535 people to do very little an awful waste of resources?

But it’s clear that an anti-government flavor has taken hold of our country in these past few months, and McDonnell’s remark was attempting to play into that.

It is no secret that the Democrats face an uphill battle this year. The Republicans have simply done a better job at smearing the Democrat’s proposals, and President Barack Obama lost control of his message.

So, in some ways, Republicans deserve to take the majority in the House. The Democrats should have never let the health care debate drag past the August recess, and now they are paying the price.

The GOP is still taking a major risk by playing into this anti-government atmosphere. Just because Americans are unhappy with the Democrats doesn’t mean they have automatically warmed up to Republicans.

After all, Republican policies from the past decade have really screwed up our economic and foreign policy prospects.

It is easy for the GOP to play the Bush card and blame everything on their former president, but most of them were just as eager and supportive of the many failed policies. Now it has become more politically convenient for them to throw their former leader under the bus, and that’s exactly what they have done.

Ironically, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in mid-December found that more Americans have a favorable view of the tea party movement than both the Democratic and Republican parties.

You probably remember the tea partiers. They were the ones who made signs claiming Obama was a communist, socialist, fascist and whatever else their angry little hearts desired.

These anti-government “patriots” were the same people who helped campaign for a third-party conservative candidate in the New York 23rd district special election, in which the Republican candidate was forced to drop out, paving the way for a Democratic victory.

And these are the same people Republicans are now trying to cater to? Sarah Palin has already hinted at the possibility of running as a third-party candidate, and my guess is she’s crazy enough to do it.

The anti-government platform is a fine line to walk, especially when you are running for a leadership position in the same government you criticize. If Republicans were to control all branches of government again in 2012, they would still have a large and inefficient government with many of the same problems they had the last decade.

Except this time, there would be no Bush to blame, and this would further alienate their base. As Obama has seen, people get mad if change doesn’t happen within the first year.

I guess the only hope Republicans had at winning elections any time soon was to bash Obama and the inefficient United States government. And it is true that this may help Republicans recover their losses this November.

But at the end of the day, Americans will just grow more mistrustful and less confident in their government, and that is not a good thing for either party.

Frank Yonkof is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at f[email protected].