Can America stop spending?

In the long run the Republicans have to do two things, and one they probably cannot do alone, or rather probably cannot do without holding the presidency, and a gifted president he would have to be. They have to prepare the ground for an American decision—a decision by a solid majority of America’s adults—that they can faithfully back specific cuts in federal spending: that they can trust the cuts will be made fairly, that we will all be treated equally, that no finagling pols will sneak in “protection” for this pet interest group or that power lobby, that we are in this together as a nation and can make progress together as a nation.

This is a huge job, and may ultimately require one strong and believable voice.

Second the Republicans should tread delicately while moving forward seriously. Voters are feeling as never before in recent political history the vulnerability of their individual positions. There is no reason to believe they are interested in highly complicated and technical reforms, the kind that go under the heading “homework.” As in: “I know my future security depends on understanding this thing and having a responsible view, but I cannot make it out. My whole life is homework. I cannot do more.”

We are not a nation of accountants, however much our government tries to turn us into one.