GOP Should Play to Win in November

The NFL season is now upon us, and I’m reminded of a kind of “strategy” bandied about from time to time by commentators of the sport. I’m not certain you can actually call it a strategy, but you can see it played out regularly over the course of the season and it seems nobody quite understands why. It’s called “playing not to lose.”

It’s an interesting concept, but it’s clearly different than playing to win. Let me explain; sometimes, during the course of a game, the team with the lead, who in many cases is dominating the game, tends to “let down” and rest on their laurels before the game is finished. There doesn’t appear to be any clear reason why this occurs, but there’s no question that it does. It’s not something a team does intentionally; rather, it’s a sort of malaise or hesitancy that seems to engulf an entire team when they’re leading. Instead of pressing the advantage, the team with the lead allows the other team to gain momentum and in many cases go on to overtake the team destined for victory.

Similarly, for anyone familiar with the poker game “Texas Hold’em,” playing not to lose simply means playing your hand “tight,” and/or not playing as many hands as your opponents in an attempt to advance further during tournament play. Regular watchers of ESPN’s World Series of Poker have seen this “strategy” played out on a fairly regular basis. While the strategy can be successful from time to time, it must be said that these occurrences are the exception and, most certainly, not the rule.

So what does this have to do with election season? It appears to many conservatives, that our congressional leadership and the White House are playing “not to lose.” With a clear majority in both Houses, our elected representatives continue, ad nauseam, to allow their opponents to get back in the game. Whether it’s the threat of a filibuster or the fear of a New York Times headline, Republicans seem almost sheepish about getting things done before the election. This is the quintessential example of playing not to lose.

At a time when playing to win could very well mean the difference between maintaining the majority in both Houses, and calling San Fran Nan “Madame Speaker,” the Republicans refuse to address the issues important to the average citizen. Our elected representatives will return to Washington shortly, and there will be slightly more than a month to go until Election Day. Republicans can maintain the advantage in both houses if they have the will and the courage to simply do what their constituents elected them to do; namely, pass legislation important to the average American citizen.

In a recent “action alert,” the American Conservative Union hit the nail squarely on the head with a few agenda items for our elected leadership. You can read the action alert here. I join the ACU in suggesting the following:

  • The top priority is border security. Any member of the House or Senate who puts this issue on the back burner is destined to lose. It’s simply that important to the American public. A “comprehensive” approach to illegal immigration is hogwash and John Q. Public knows it. Therefore, it is imperative that border security receives the attention it deserves. No amnesty, and no “citizenship express lane.” Let’s secure our borders before we tackle the other aspects of illegal immigration.
  • Energy independence must be a mid- to long-term goal, but in the mean time, the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge must be opened for drilling. People are tired of paying $3.00 for a gallon of gas and the economic impact of opening ANWR is incredibly significant. Pass this legislation now and reap the rewards in November. Leave it until another day and you may be looking for work shortly after Election Day.
  • There are five judicial nominees currently awaiting an up or down vote from the Senate. It is incumbent on the Republican leadership to give these nominees the vote they deserve. If the Democrats want to filibuster a nominee, so be it. Let’s try getting this done before Election Day.
  • Pass legislation to eliminate the “Death Tax.” Boris Karloff played a great grave robber in “The Body Snatcher,” and the IRS is attempting to do a re-make by robbing the graves of Americans. Let’s stop this practice now. We’re taxed enough while we’re still breathing, so taxing us when we’re pushing up daisies seems to be a bit of overkill if you’ll excuse the pun. In fact, I recommend the Republicans use the slogan “Kill the Death Tax” to drive the point home.

That may sound like plenty to do over the course of a month, but a team playing to win can get it done. The time for foot-dragging is over. Let’s start playing to win instead of playing not to lose. It’s not to late. The elections are still more than a month off and we can still be victorious if we pass the legislation important to the citizenry. Let’s press our advantage before the advantage is gone.