The last time there was a two-term Democratic president, congressional Republicans had an idea on how to respond to voters' judgment: impeach him. Americans have put Bill Clinton in the White House, but Gingrich, DeLay, and their allies decided it was their job to push him out.
With this in mind, there are some parallels to contemporary politics, insofar as congressional Republicans are once again eager to replace voters' judgment with their own.
We talked earlier about the laundry list of right-wing goodies GOP lawmakers will demand Democrats provide as part of the new Republican debt-ceiling crisis. Reflecting on the wish list, Ezra Klein noted, "John Boehner isn't even trying to pretend his House of Representatives is a sane place anymore. The House GOP's debt limit bill -- obtained by the National Review -- isn't a serious governing document. It's not even a plausible opening bid. It's a cry for help."
And while the hopeless insanity of the Republican ransom note certainly matters, Jon Chait noticed something especially interesting about the GOP's "megalomaniacal ambition."
Does that list sound vaguely familiar? It's Mitt Romney's 2012 economic plan. Almost word for word, in fact. [...]The fact that a major party could even propose anything like this is a display of astonishing contempt for democratic norms. Republicans ran on this plan and lost by 5 million votes. They also lost the Senate and received a million fewer votes in the House but held control owing to favorable district lines. Is there an example in American history of a losing party issuing threats to force the majority party to implement its rejected agenda?
Since the U.S. Civil War? No, there are no such examples.
So, on the one hand we have Republicans like the Heritage Foundation's Jim DeMint, who wants to pretend the 2012 elections don't really count. On the other we have congressional Republicans, who think they've found a way for the GOP to present a policy platform to the nation, watch it get rejected, and then implement it anyway -- as if election results are a mere suggestion that our elected policymakers should ignore as part of an extortion scheme.
After the last Democratic president was re-elected, Republicans sought a way to undo the election. After this Democratic president was re-elected, Republicans are again looking to undo the election.
Other than our Civil War, there's just no precedent in American history for anything like this. It's rather terrifying, actually.