The election Lindsey Graham might have missed

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The election Lindsey Graham might have missed
The election Lindsey Graham might have missed
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) didn’t seem especially thrilled with the bipartisan fiscal agreement negotiated by Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but like nearly all of his colleagues, the South Carolina Republican grudgingly voted for it.

But once the fight was over, Graham quickly shifted his attention to the next looming crisis his party is eager to create, on everything from the debt ceiling to sequestration to funding the government itself.

[I]n early March would come another deadline: the $110 billion cut in spending, half from the Pentagon, delayed as part of this deal.

A month or so later – on March 27 – a short-term measure that funds government agencies will lapse. Without a renewal, the government will shut down, setting up another possible showdown.

“Round two’s coming,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “And we’re going to have one hell of a contest about the direction and the vision of this country.”

I feel like I hear this from GOP lawmakers fairly regularly: they keep creating crises, on purpose, because they’re eager for an epic fight over “the direction and the vision of this country.” At a certain level, that’s understandable – in a democracy, these fights over the future can be healthy and necessary.

But what Graham and too many of his allies seem to forget is that we already had “one hell of a contest about the direction and the vision of this country.”

It was a little something called “the 2012 election cycle,” and though Graham may not have liked the results, his side lost.

Memories can be short in DC, but for at least a year, voters were told the 2012 election would be the most spectacularly important, history-changing, life-setting election any of us have ever seen. It was quite common for Republicans to argue publicly that the 2012 cycle would be the most critical for the United States since 1860 – the election before the Civil War.

Election Day 2012, in other words, was for all the marbles. It was the big one. The whole enchilada was on the line. The results would set the direction of the country for a generation, so it was time to pull out all the stops and fight like there’s no tomorrow – because for the losers, there probably wouldn’t be one.

And then President Obama won fairly easily, Senate Democrats defied expectations and expanded their majority, and House Democrats gained seats.

Two months later, we’re told what the nation really needs is “one hell of a contest about the direction and the vision of this country.”

Not to put too fine a point on this, Lindsey Graham seems to be missing the point of the democratic process. In this country, we have elections in which candidates present their ideas about the direction and the vision of this country, and the American people express a preference. Then, once that’s over, there’s an expectation that the fight over the direction and the vision of this country would end and governing would begin.

Graham, I’m afraid, is confused.

But wait, Republicans say, didn’t the electorate also elect a right-wing House majority? To a certain extent, yes, but in raw vote totals, Americans cast 1.362 million more votes for Democratic House candidates than GOP House candidates, which hardly points to a powerful Republican mandate.

We had an epic fight, and one side won. To pretend the election didn’t happen, and then say it’s time for another epic fight that disregards the will of American voters, is bad for the country – and for democracy.

Lindsey Graham

The election Lindsey Graham might have missed

Updated