Skip to main content

GOP House can't claim to speak for America

By Thomas Mann, Special to CNN
updated 9:57 AM EDT, Fri October 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thomas Mann: GOP talking point is that the House reflects Americans' views
  • He says that's wrong: Obamacare is law; attempts to nullify it violate the Constitution
  • Mann: GOP in House lost 2012 overall popular vote but kept control because of redistricting
  • He says House can press its views but not recklessly threaten U.S., global economy

Editor's note: Tom Mann is a senior in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and the W. Averell Harriman Chair. His most recent book, co-authored with Norman Ornstein and now out in paperback, is "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism."

(CNN) -- One talking point frequently used by Republicans to justify shutting down the government while trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act is that the House and its Republican majority are more representative of Americans' views than President Barack Obama and the Democratic Senate.

That is preposterous and beside the point.

The ACA is law. End of story. The House Republicans' attempt to nullify a duly-enacted law violates the norms of our constitutional system. It is reckless economically and an egregious affront to our democratic form of government.

Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann

House Republicans have every right to press their views in Congress but not to threaten to blow up the U.S. and global economy by shutting down the government and threatening public default

We have elections for all three key players -- the president, the House and the Senate. If Republicans want to change the law, they must do it the old-fashioned way: Persuade the others to accept their position or win control of the White House and Senate.

House Republicans lost ground in the 2012 elections, lost the national vote for the House by over a million votes and retained a majority only because of favorable districting.

Obama won re-election by 3.9 percentage points and got an overwhelming victory in the Electoral College. Senate Democrats retained their majority despite having to defend more than twice as many seats as the Republicans.

McConnell, Paul caught on hot mic
GOP: Obama is giving us the Heisman

House Republicans represent a distinct minority of public sentiment. They carelessly generalize from the echo chambers of their safe districts to the national electorate.

Polls show a majority of the public opposed to shutting down the government to kill or amend Obamacare. A majority of Americans also oppose its repeal or defunding.

Moreover, a significant portion of those who don't like the law say it doesn't go far enough.

But public opinion doesn't matter at this point. The Constitution provides for an orderly process of making laws and building agreement between chambers of Congress and branches of government.

Blackmail, extortion, hostage-taking and brinksmanship are the tools of terrorists, not legislators.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Thomas Mann.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:15 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 1:28 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT