Congressman Sean Duffy was making the rounds of national TV shows last week, proposing his solution for the standoff that created the government shutdown.
The northern Wisconsin Republican said that he and his House colleagues would be delighted to back away from a hardline stance if the Obama administration would simply bow to their “small ask.”
And what was Duffy’s “small ask"?
The congressman was talking about the House GOP’s proposal to scrap essential elements for implementing the Affordable Care Act, a law approved by Congress, signed by the president and approved by the courts.
Here’s what Duffy told Andrea Mitchell on her MSNBC program:
Duffy: You were asking me about the larger issue of why can't people resolve this government shutdown. And we have been incredibly reasonable, making a small ask. And if the president —
Mitchell: Do you consider it a small ask that he get rid of the central part of his health care plan that was upheld by the vote of a presidential election and the United States Supreme Court?
Duffy: Andrea, hold on. That's your spin.
“Your spin”? Seriously?
It certainly sounded as if Duffy was the one doing the spinning.
He was asking the Americans to imagine that this whole shutdown scrap has been about the Affordable Care Act, or about continuing resolutions and the debt ceiling.
But that’s not the case. It’s about the core question — raised by Mitchell — of whether elections matter.
The American people had every opportunity to reject the Affordable Care Act in 2012. As Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says, the GOP ran a “big issues” challenge to Obama and the Democrats. No one could miss that “Obamacare” was an issue.
When voters weighed in, the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan lost every swing state — including Ryan’s Wisconsin.
The GOP ticket lost the Electoral College by an overwhelming 332-206 margin. It lost the popular vote by more than 5 million.
Obama was elected with a higher percentage of the vote than John Kennedy in 1960, Richard Nixon in 1968, Ronald Reagan in 1980, Bill Clinton in 1992 or 1996, and George Bush in 2000 or 2004.
And it did not stop there.
Democrats were supposed to lose Senate seats in 2012. But they instead increased their majority, with a 10 million vote advantage in races nationwide. Among the key winners were ardent Democratic advocates for health care reform, including Congressman Tammy Baldwin, who won Wisconsin’s open seat.
In House races nationwide, Democrats secured a 1.7 million vote advantage. John Boehner remains as House speaker only because of the combination of gerrymandering, election processes that do not always reflect the will of the people, and big money.
Sean Duffy’s “small ask” was not small. It was huge.
It was a proposal that the results of the most recent national elections be set aside so that the losing party could implement its agenda.
John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. email@example.com @NicholsUprising