The 2013 Government Shutdown:

Modern Day Fort Sumter?

tea party protest sign 2The good news is that some level of sanity has temporarily returned and the U.S. Government is finally back open for business… The bad news is that our economy was once again wounded by bullets fired from Tea Party sharpshooters that came within inches of the heart of U.S. and world markets that would have brought much more devastating financial injury had they been successful in refusing to raise the debt ceiling. The would-be assassins claimed they were aiming at ObamaCare but this law was well protected and never in any real danger so the damage done was entirely collateral as in a drive-by shooting. Financial experts and political pundits are still assessing the negative consequences: estimates as high as $24 billion in lost revenue, potential downgrades to our credit rating, and the loss of confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to conduct business in a rationale manner.

The really bad news is that the Republicans merely consented to kick the can down the road a few more months – the settlement only takes us through January. While many of their relatively more moderate colleagues conceded that the shutdown strategy backfired, the Tea Party minority in the House appears willing, even eager to attack again.

Ted Cruz2Coordinated by Wing Nut-in-Chief Senator Ted Cruz, this self-inflicted crisis held the future of the nation hostage while ostensibly trying to sabotage ObamaCare by any means at their disposal. They managed to successfully bully John Boehner and the traditional (but still ultra-conservative) Republicans into deploying blackmail in order to shut the government down even though there was never a prayer they could win. What about the fact that Obama Care was signed into law, upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, and the political centerpiece of the President’s overwhelming re-election victory, don’t they get?

But just a few days out from the end of the crisis, the bitterness of the closed door bickering among Tea Party and traditional conservative Republicans is emerging:

“Let’s face it: it was not a good maneuver,” Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the senior Senate Republican and supporter of the deal that ended the showdown, said. “And that’s when you’ve got to have the adults running the thing.”

“It’s civil war in the G.O.P.,” said Richard Viguerie, a veteran conservative warrior who helped invent the political direct mail business.

“The 20 or 30 members of the House who have been driving this aren’t a majority, and too often the strategy — the tactic — was ‘Let’s just lay down a marker and force people to be with us,’ ” said the senior Republican strategist Karl Rove.

It’s pretty scary when the likes of hard-core conservatives such as Hatch and Rove look reasonable by comparison.

Continuing my string of metaphors… strategically the shutdown was equivalent to the rash of irrational gun violence we have encountered of late or suicide bombers who don’t think much about consequences (to themselves or others) but are just interested in devastation and drawing attention. By extension, these political terrorists have abandoned well hewn Congressional protocol for how multiple parties work through differences to get the business of governing done in favor of their new policy of victory at any price. And if you look between the lines, their agenda is potentially much more sinister.

joe_wilson_hecklingObamaCare is merely a convenient, symbolic target. Their objective from Day 1 has been to discredit (“Liar!”) and delegitimize (birthers) this President’s administration. If you dig a bit deeper the Tea Party mantra of less government is aimed at dismantling the core of our strong federalist government in favor of empowering individual states’ rights. This is nothing new of course… considerable blood was shed over 150 years ago when states refused to accept the majority will. Some Texans have begun to talk of secession and while for now it’s so much hot air, much of the Tea Party rhetoric is reminiscent of the Confederate call to arms (literal and figurative).

texas_secession_supporters_march2011The first battles in this modern-day Civil War are currently being fought within the Republican Party. If the traditional Republicans aren’t successful in wresting the upper hand from their Tea Party colleagues, the use of political suicide bombs and blackmail will bring on even harsher stalemates that in fact, could threaten our nation’s political stability.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. pdm1@cornell.edu
    October 24, 2013
    I think this is terrific. You might consider noting that the tea party folks were prepared to distract the country from Obama’s vulnerabilities [Syria and the red line, and the blocked health exchanges] in order to force their party to the right, which is further explanation for their tactic, which is the only kind of politics they know or can pursue given who they are (as you imply in arguing that this is reminiscent of confederate behavior).

    Editor’s response: thanks Phil – good point: consider it noted.

    Like


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