We like risk and reward. The gold rush was as much a motivation to be a pioneer as was the more noted religious freedom. Poker is actually considered a sport. Yes, poker players are athletes, according to the U.S. government. It’s the one sport you can train for while chain smoking in a tracksuit.
But like every wine connoisseur will think they have nothing in common with a wino; we celebrate gamblers but not degenerates.
We don’t like people who lose and continue to place bets only to lose again. But here is the Republican Party wrapping up their year as unapologetic gamblers with America’s fate in their greasy hands.
And they’re on a losing streak.
“Ten thousand bucks?” proposed Mitt Romney to Rick Perry on a debate stage earlier this month. Yes, Romney couldn’t have said: “You are lying, Rick.” Couldn’t have said: “There you go again.” Couldn’t have countered with the fact Perry seems to get basic civics wrong and can’t list more than two things at a time – Mitt Romney had to make a wager; a wager for nearly a year’s pay for a minimum wage worker.
But this is what you do when you have a problem with gambling. This is what happens when you pass that invisible line from “risk taker” to “intervention subject.” When you lose – instead of contrition or reassessing your philosophy or re-thinking your lifestyle – you double down and hope to win. When your policies fail you prescribe those same policies as the solution.
It’s like a homeopathic remedy; put a hot compress on a burn. Sell your ideas as a remedy for the turmoil your ideas cause.
The housing bubble burst the entire world’s economy because there were too few regulations. The GOP double down? Fewer regulations!
There are Americans who live with dirty air and water. It’s been widely documented that fracking has caused earthquakes and taint well water. GOP double down? Kill the Environmental Protection Agency.
The rich have never been richer. Wealth inequality is worse in the U.S. today than that of the slave-owning Roman Empire. GOP double down? Protect all tax cuts for the wealthy and propose new ones.
Unemployment plagues America. Long-term unemployment is becoming acutely painful. GOP double down? Cut the federal workforce!
America is losing faith in their government. Republicans say government can’t do anything right. GOP double down? Be the most ineffective Congress you can be. Currently Congress’ approval rating is just above the margin of error.
When you double down – you lose twice as much – twice as quickly. And that sums up Speaker John Boehner’s tenure just perfectly. If Congress were an actual casino they’d be required by law to at least have Gamblers Anonymous pamphlets available. “Did you ever gamble until the deficit was $15 trillion and still vow to keep the Bush Tax Cuts? Call us.”
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” famously said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the beginning of the lowest rated Congress in the history of the institution. Which to me is the biggest gamble of them all.
It’s the notion that politics is a Zero Sum game. That if Obama loses – the GOP therefore wins. It’s just not true. Who loses are the people who always lose when it comes to Republican policies: the poor and the middle class.
That’s who’s bearing the brunt of the first gambling losses – and now the double down.
Taking Eternal Vigilance Too Far