The most unpopular and least productive Congress in recent history is the 112th, the current one. What makes it different from others is the fact that it is the first Congress that won its Republican majority in 2010. It features more than 80 members of the Tea Party.
The Tea Party is perhaps most well-known for their inflexible attitude and unprecedented unwillingness to work with non-Republican members of the House of Representatives. That attitude has not sat well with a frustrated electorate who overwhelmingly believe that their representatives should govern by consensus.
So why then has the Tea Party and their Republican friends refused to govern, despite the will of their constituents?
The answer to that is two-fold. The first part of the problem is how they were elected.
In 2010, Tea Party candidates were swept into office with big money backing. Ultra-conservative millionaires like the Koch brothers began funding Super PACs, thanks to the newly enacted Citizens United law, which gave corporations the same First Amendment rights as individuals, but with no limits on how much they could spend to influence the outcome of elections. And that changed everything.
With no limits on spending, millionaires bombarded the air waves with advertising, much of it based on scare tactics about the horrors of President Obama and a socialist take-over of the U.S. government.
Whether or not any of it is true is irrelevant. If a message is repeated often enough, it is effective in influencing voters.
But the Tea Party candidates of 2010 also brought with them a message of fiscal discipline and the promise of job creation. In hindsight, it is obvious that both promises were broken. The 112th congress has not reduced the deficit or passed a single piece of job creation legislation.
That brings us to the second reason for the lackluster performance of ultra-conservative Republicans as congressional legislators.
On the first day of the Obama administration, Republicans vowed to block everything the president hoped to accomplish, even if it was originally a Republican idea, or bad for the country.
During a four-hour meeting on Obama's Inauguration Day in 2009, "senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected," according to author Robert Draper's book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives."
This scheme was openly admitted to by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in multiple public announcements.
According to the Daily Kos, there was a long list of senior GOP leaders who "literally plotted to sabotage, undermine and destroy America's Economy." It included House Republicans Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren, and Sens. Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign and Bob Corker. Newt Gingrich also was invited by host Frank Luntz, a well-known GOP pollster who uses focus groups to create campaign strategies.
The plan to destroy the Obama administration was harder to carry out with Democrats in control of Congress for the first year of the Obama administration. But after the big-money Super PACs bought Republican control of the House in the 2010 elections, deliberately blocking an economic recovery got easier for the obstructionists.
The Tea Party spirit of antagonism toward the president brought virtually every aspect of the legislative process of the country to a screeching halt, as planned. But it also made it impossible for the ultra-conservative fundamentalists to keep their campaign promises to create jobs and cut the deficit. That left them with no agenda to pursue but state-level, regressive social issues that were fast dubbed as a war on women, which has alienated nearly half of the national electorate.
And while three years of right-wing, anti-Obama propaganda has poisoned the honor of Congress, along with the minds of millions of Americans through mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh, the economy still managed to stagger past the Wall Street financial meltdown left in the wake of the Bush administration.
In fact, the stimulus package President Obama passed before the Republican take-over of the House is considered by many economists as the only reason the U.S. didn't fall into a much deeper recession, or still worse, a depression.
Enter Mitt Romney.
In 2012, the Republicans put their money on a dark horse to win the White House. The former Bain Capital CEO had little governing experience, having only served one term as governor of Massachusetts. But that didn't matter to them. The theory was that with enough Citizens United Super PAC money, they could get a monkey elected.
But less than two months before Election Day, the monkey is proving to be a dunce.
One blunder after another has not only increased the odds against a Romney victory, it has made the scheme to gamble the future of the entire country just to discredit Obama an utter disaster that could disempower the entire Tea Party movement and take the Republican Party down with it.
Conservative talk radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Limbaugh are blaming Romney for not being conservative enough to beat Obama. But the problem is not in Romney's views. It's in his lack of character and inability to get voters to trust him to run the country.
No candidate has ever won the presidency with unfavorable ratings as high as Romney's are now. Perhaps there are some things that money just can't buy.
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