Everybody knows: the polls show a huge drop in the poll numbers for Republicans. What that means is that millions of people are in the process of changing their image of the Republican Party. For the worse. Maybe much worse.
But people have short memories. The image of the Republicans recklessly taking hostages over the shutdown and the threat of default will soon begin to recede. When the ugliness that this episode has revealed recedes from view, these millions of people whose views of the GOP are in flux will likely shift back in the direction of their old views, as when the GOP polled better.
Unless the Democrats strike while the iron is hot. That means taking every opportunity to highlight what will doubtless be other Republican conduct in the future that confirms what these millions are now coming to see.
Almost two-thirds of Americans now see the Republicans as promoting their own agenda at the expense of the public good. They’ve been doing this for years, and they’re not about to stop. The job for the Democrats now is to call them out on their power-hungry disregard of the nation’s welfare every time it’s on display. That will reinforce what so many Americans are now more receptive to seeing.
People have seen that the Republicans do not speak the truth. Democrats should call them on their lies, every time. They see that the Republicans run roughshod over the norms of our democracy. Call them out. They see that the Republicans are unhinged from reality (default would be no big deal), Call them out.
Today’s Republican Party is as bad as these recent weeks have shown them to be. This crisis has opened the door to solidifying that realization in the minds of millions of Americans.
Nothing could be more important for us Americans at this point in our history. The destructive force that’s taken over the Republican Party in our times has done enormous damage already to this nation, and threatens to do much more. The way to make America safe is to take away from this force the power to wreak that damage. As we still have a democracy, that power rests on the support of the American people. Take away that support, and you drain away that power.
That’s the big picture of why this is Job One. More immediately, if the Obama presidency is to be able to accomplish much of anything in the time that’s left, it will be necessary to take control of the House away from the GOP. The 2014 elections are the battle that will determine whether President Obama is able to move the country forward, or just stand as a barrier to the worst efforts of the Republican Wrecking Crew.
We who see the Republican Party for the monstrosity it has become have a job to do. We should exhort our Democratic leaders to strike while the iron is hot. We should make sure that these upcoming elections in Virginia give the Democrats a stunning victory, underscoring the public’s rejection of Republican extremism. We should organize to elevate powerful messages and the people who can deliver them.
The metaphor of striking while the iron is hot captures an important reality about how the world works. There are times when things are solidified, and change is very difficult to accomplish—that’s when the iron is cold. And there are times when things are hot and therefore molten and malleable, ready to be shaped by the man with the hammer and the anvil and the skill to bend the metal into the shape he wants.
The immediate crisis has made the iron hot. When this crisis is over, it will be time not to back off but to keep striking.