For the past season or so, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been about the main group’s struggle with the oppressive Saviors, and is leading up to a deadly showdown.
(No, that statement doesn’t warrant a spoiler warning. Saying the show is about rival groups of humans in an apocalyptic world is like saying Breaking Bad was about a guy who started cooking meth and then bad things happened. That’s not a spoiler. It’s just the show’s synopsis).
They kept the peace for a while, but the Saviors keep pushing and pushing. At some point you have to say “enough is enough,” and it’s time to push back. For a while, people wondered if the GOP would ever reach that point with the Trump administration.
Like our heroes in Zombie World (it’s really Georgia, but close enough), Republicans have had to absorb several slights by President Trump in order to survive. Ghandi used to call it “pocketing the insult,” and these folks have deep pockets. The Iraq War has been labeled “a total disaster” so many times, you probably heard the President’s voice when you just read that phrase. We have no idea who’s paying for the wall and his views on trade don’t exactly employ textbook conservative principles. And when you get lectured on family values from a man who’s had five children with three different women, you wonder how much more Republicans could take.
A lot, apparently. Like living in a post-apocalyptic landscape, the cost of survival is high but it’s something they’ve always paid. Republicans have Congress and the White House, are in line to tilt the Supreme Court and have their next candidate in Mike Pence taking a lead role in government affairs. That buys a lot of grin-and-bear-it moments, and plenty of deference toward whatever gets Tweeted out each morning.
I’m not going to compare Congress to mindless zombies. Zombies are at least looking for brains, after all. But you get the picture.
To be fair, there were a few stragglers who hadn’t gotten the message. When the President claimed his predecessor wiretapped him, a few lost souls actually wanted proof and didn’t twist logic like a pretzel to defend him. Maybe that’s progress.
Still, the GOP always seemed to be one cantaloupe short (okay, that’s kind of a spoiler. But it’s out of context and meaningless on its own. Carry on) when dealing with President Trump. Were they following principles? Their own sense of decorum or decency? Or were they simply following the alpha male who has dominated them since he started going on rock-star campaign stops and raising the bar– or perhaps lowering it– at each successive debate?
We finally got an answer in last week’s episode on Capitol Hill: Republicans rejected the flawed health care bill that fatally tried to please everybody and ended up satisfying nobody.
In the end, the only person calling it “wonderful” was the guy who was supposed to negotiate its passage from the White House. He failed, it failed and now all that’s left of the GOP’s attempt to repeal Obamacare is the blame game. Ironically, it’s probably the only part of that bill that made any sense.
But if that exercise was a failure, there was a silver-lining success for Republicans: They won’t follow President Trump (or Paul Ryan) down any old rabbit hole anymore. They’ve been very careful not to defy him, through bizarre claims about inauguration size, sloppy executive orders and a handful of uncomfortable encounters with allies. And that was just the first two months in office.
So viewers might expect that the House would just keep going along. But they finally pushed back. The Freedom caucus pushed back. The moderate Tuesday Group pushed back (a little). Rand Paul pushed back (a lot). And passing the Senate would have been no cakewalk, either. The voices of opposition were pretty loud. This time, anyway.
Of course, the key to surviving an apocalypse (zombie or presidential) is to actually survive. Republicans have done that, and even thrived with newfound levels of power. Nobody should be surprised that they’re willing to look the other way at some missteps. But at some point is enough was really enough. It wasn’t worth it. They finally pushed back, and handed the president an embarrassing defeat.
The Walking Dead is also highlighting some serious pushback, and the results are sure to be more cruel and bloody than we saw with the AHCA. But let’s stop an give the Republicans a little credit. Even if it was for different reasons, the various groups banded together and stood up to the ones forcing them to accept a bad deal. Even if they revert back in the coming months, the GOP provided a little entertainment (and hope) for viewers last week.