A lot of the time, politics is about picking the least worst option. Well, the “fiscal cliff” deal jointly crafted by Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was the least worst option, and those who voted against it should not hide behind any phony commitment to principle. This deal or nothing were the two options left after weeks of failed negotiations. Nothing else was possible last night.  And while nothing about the deal makes America stronger, the absence of an agreement would make us weaker. 

The GOP needs to be the party of low taxes and smaller government. This deal produces the opposite of that. It does nothing to slow spending, reduce the debt or diminish dependency. All it did was avoid a financial shot to the head for millions of U.S. taxpayers.

Of course it is easy to oppose the deal when you don’t consider context, the alternatives and the consequences of doing nothing. It is convenient to believe that, if the GOP had let us go over the cliff, it would have been so bad for so many taxpayers and for the economy that the president and the Democrats in Congress would have agreed to a better deal, including spending reform. In other words, taxpayers were being held hostage and if we would have let them endure a little torture, we could have gotten Obama and the Democrats to cave in to our will.

What a bunch of baloney. The Republicans who voted “no” hid behind the courage of those who recognized that the McConnell-Biden deal was better — at this time — than the consequences of doing nothing. 

Obviously, America’s future depends on our ability to rein in spending. Fights over our spending, including the debt-ceiling debate, will be critical. But no Republicans should boast of their opposition to the McConnell-Biden deal and consider themselves more philosophically pure or more courageous than their colleagues who had to vote for the bill.  They are the opposite.

I hope party leaders will band together and punish any Republican or Republican organization that tries to use this vote against those who voted for it. Nobody should be vulnerable in a future primary because they voted “yes” last night. If anything, the lesson learned for Republicans should be how hard it’s going to be to get our financial house in order and slow the quickening decline of America.