As I watched Monday night's round of legislative ping-pong end in a needless government shutdown, I thought about whether any of this mishegas was actually necessary for the GOP to achieve its desired result. And all it once, it hit me like a bolt from the blue! Of course the GOP can get rid of Obamacare -- without a government shutdown or a debt-ceiling crisis. The party can do so through a very simple process, one undertaken by Republicans on a regular basis.
According to several sources, in 2016 there is going to be this thing called a "presidential election," in which a Republican may contend. Here's how it works: Beginning in about January 2016, there will be a series of "primaries," held in multiple states in which lots of Republican candidates can vie to be the "presidential nominee." If any one contender achieves, through the primary process, the right number of delegates, he or she goes on to contend in the "general election" against nominees from other parties.
Beginning in January, any or all contenders are allowed to stake out a platform of getting rid of Obamacare. The media will even point television cameras at the contenders and put the things they say on the news and stuff.
From there, all the Republican nominee would have to do to get rid of Obamacare is prevail in the "general election." To do so, he or she (but let's face it, probably "he") would simply have to win a combination of states with a total number of "electoral votes" equal or exceeding 270. (You can learn more about how the "electoral college" works here.)
The good news is that Republicans have over 1,100 days to get ready for this. That's a lot of time to raise money and perfect their messaging. (Try: "If elected, I will get rid of Obamacare" and season as you see fit.)
Chances are, if the Republican candidate is sweeping to victory in the presidential election, voters will likely choose a majority of Republicans for the House and Senate, too, which will make getting rid of Obamacare even easier.
And if I read the Republicans' basic take on Obamacare correctly, it seems they're pretty convinced that the law is going to be a huge disaster: Taxpayers won't like it, it will drive costs up, it will cause the quality of care to go down, and it will do harm to the economy in terms of growth and unemployment.
If all of that turns out to be true, a GOP presidential candidate who promises to get rid of the health care law is going to have a strong position in the race. If I were in the GOP's shoes, I'd gamble on being correct about how the roll-out of Obamacare is going to go, then stop trying to end it by provoking crises and just let it fail naturally.
Remember, in the general election the inevitable Democratic candidate will have to "own" Obamacare, as the media likes to say. This eventual Democratic opponent may have even cast a vote in support of Obamacare. At the very least it's likely that he or she will have said something in public in support of Obamacare. A GOP presidential candidate could put this statement in what's known as an "attack ad." Man, that attack ad would sure make the Democratic candidate look dumb, I bet!
In summation, it sure looks like this "2016 election strategy" is the way to go. It maximizes the GOP's opportunities, confers key advantages and can, in the end, produce an inarguable "mandate" for getting rid of Obamacare.
Best of all, it neatly provides a way around all of the crisis-raising strategies currently being used to get rid of Obamacare. The public really hates government shutdowns, but Americans are remarkably OK with Republican people running for president. Few, if any, object to this.
So, there you have it. I fixed this for you! Now go and pass a clean continuing resolution, boys -- chop-chop!
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This story appears in Issue 70 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Oct. 11 in the iTunes App store.