Here’s a scenario that every football fan knows well. Your team has the lead and all signs point to victory. Your aggressive defense has stymied the opponent for three quarters. If they can keep this up for a few more minutes, it’s another game in the win column!
Uh oh. Instead of keeping the pressure on, your timid coach opts for a Prevent Defense. Noooo! He allows the opponent to gain four yards here, seven yards there. He will let them move down the field; he just wants to keep them from making that big play into the end zone.
Twelve “small plays” later, the other guys are celebrating under the goal post and your coach is wondering what went wrong.
As the GOP looks to the November midterms, the polls show a slight lead. Terrified of screwing something up, party leaders have decided on a prevent defense for the next nine months. Sure, let Dems waive the debt limit. Restore the sequester funding. Pass a pork-laden farm bill. As long as Republicans don’t do anything, say anything or stand for anything, victory is assured.
In theory, the prevent defense should work like a charm. But, as Coach John Madden famously warned, “all a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning.”
If Republican leaders wonder why the fans in the stands are screaming at them, it’s because we’ve seen how this game ends.