But unified Republican control of government is illusory for a party as badly divided as the GOP. And having at least nominal total control of the government proved stultifying rather than galvanizing. Nearly a year in, their sole accomplishment has been the tax bill; and while they might celebrate having cut taxes, the legislation’s grim polling numbers may have finally punctured the notion that tax cuts are some sort of political panacea guaranteed to thrill voters.
And the price they’ve paid for an unpopular tax bill and its back-door sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (by repealing the individual mandate, which will in term jack up premiums)? The party has proved itself hypocritical on issues they have in the past raised to the level of moral challenge: Remember their years of wailing about the deficit and debt? That issue lost its fascination for them when a giant tax cut was on the table; or their endless concern for process and openness and not hastily “ramming” unpopular legislation through the Congress in a partisan manner? As my colleague Pat Garofalo wrote of the tax bill, “It’s like the GOP has been condemned by some deity somewhere to actually commit every process violation it accused Democrats of committing during the Obama years, except by several orders of magnitude.” Or do you remember how the GOP used to be the self-styled party of family values? The year’s close saw the Republican president, repeatedly accused of assaulting women, actions about which he has bragged, endorsing and actively supporting a former (because he was removed from the bench) judge who was himself accused of preying on teenage girls.