(Tom Toles)
Editorial cartoonist

The political landscape has shifted again, and what has come into view is that despite all the vituperative grandstanding on the issue, Republicans do not care about deficits in the slightest. The only question left is did they ever, at least in the past 30 years, except there is no question there either. The answer is no. Nobody who really cares about something gives it up so quickly for so little reason.

So in this brave new all-bets-are-off landscape, what is the Democratic Party to do? I’ll tell you: Give away the store, is what. Promise anything and everything. Free health care forever. No tax hikes. Heck, make that no taxes paid by anyone making less than $100,000 a year. Actually, make it $200,000. Why not? Because it would be fiscally irresponsible and detrimental to the long-term health of the nation?

Pause.

So what?? The new era is the no-responsibility era. Republicans would love nothing more than for Democrats to take up the burden they’ve shed. But why should Democrats take the bait? Why should Democrats have to be the liberal party and the conservative party, too? While Republicans get to be the party of lies and looting? If you are inclined to answer that the people won’t vote for irresponsibility, take a look at who holds power. Only suckers improve balance sheets, as evidenced by the past several presidencies.

No, the game has changed, and the debate is over. The Republicans are playing chicken, and so far the Democrats have chickened out. Time to get off the brakes and hit the accelerator. Time to promise the world, with no pay-fors. The only missing ingredient is the cover story. And here it is: Free health care pays for itself.

As long as we have one political party thriving on irresponsibility, the nation isn’t going to function in any case. If Republicans and their donors and their voters don’t want a conservative party, it’s preposterous to expect liberals to want and be one. The GOP elites have called the tune.

Let’s dance.