In terrorist cells across the world, militant Muslim extremists must be dancing with delight anticipating the magnitude of suffering, destruction and humiliation that America’s own ideological fanatics are ready to inflict on the United States. What the promise of 40 camels and 70 virgins could not accomplish, a dingy full of tea may.
Contrary to the fulminations of the right-wing propaganda parrots, the cause of the chronic congressional paralysis that has now advanced into government quadriplegia are the Tea Party Republicans — a vector of well-intentioned zealots afflicted with intractable ideological conviction. These self-certain ideologues are willing to inflict terrible indiscriminate suffering on millions of their fellow citizens, risk a relapse of the Great Recession, and maybe topple the fragile finances of the entire nation in order to impose the moral certainty of their beliefs. Their detrimental behavior is typical of radical true-believers throughout history.
Although Tea Party intransigents number fewer than three dozen of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, they have successfully intimidated the pusillanimous House Republican majority, tentatively led by spineless Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, into shutting down the federal government unless the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is defunded — effectively repealed.
Like it or not, that act is the law of the land, legitimately passed via the democratic process and confirmed as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. But, because it offends the ideological principles of the Tea Party puritans, they have run the ship of state aground in an effort to prevent implementation of the act.
In a democracy, the appropriate method for supporting or repealing laws is through free elections, not through coup d’états or political extortion. Otherwise, we have behavior analogous to the Egyptian minority overthrowing its nation’s legitimately elected government because it didn’t like the results of the democratic process.
If the Tea Party wants to repeal Obamacare, then it needs to win the House and Senate in the next election. But, because America’s Founding Fathers — so conscientious about installing safeguards against majority tyranny — overlooked safeguards to prevent minority tyranny, the Tea Party can circumvent the democratic process and impose its will on the entire nation.
The Tea Party zealots are correct that America cannot continue to spend itself into insurmountable debt. That is a real threat to the nation, but so is the Tea Party’s devotion to retrogressive ideology and their radical, belligerent tactics to advance their cause.
The Tea Party is always preaching limited government. And, government should be limited, but what would limited government look like? The current government shutdown might give us a glimpse of that.
You would expect that actually shutting down government would be as limited as limited gets, but while many federal agencies that provide for the general welfare have been shuttered in this Tea Party hissy-fit, the agencies of the federal police state remain fully functional. So, while food safety, disease control, work safety, national parks, veterans affairs and food assistance are all suspended, the TSA, DEA and FBI are all open for business.
What the limits are depend on who is doing the limiting. What would the Tea Party limit? Is limited government one that does not ensure health care for all its citizens but spies on them and punishes any who make victimless choices it doesn’t like?
The federal government directly employs more than 2 million civilians and generates incomes for millions more in the private sector. Effectively, this is wealth redistribution of a sort since taxes ultimately fund it all. In a nation already experiencing glaring wealth disparity and nagging unemployment, what would replace the loss of jobs and income generated by federal spending? Would it be the Republicans’ vision of a freer, lower taxed, private sector?
As a solution to the nation’s economic problems, that vision has been a hallucination. After 30 years of trickle-down economics, tax reductions for the rich, and weak regulations, the United States has not generated an economy vibrant enough to maintain its middle class, let alone grow it, or to provide sufficient employment for its citizens. But, it has yielded callous corporate greed and unpunished massive financial swindling, while concentrating more vast wealth in the economic elite.
Government-mandated universal health-care insurance is far less likely to doom America than are the Tea Party’s terrorist tactics to prevent it, and their insistence on imposing a pure form of free-market economic ideology on the nation.
In reality, no ideology works in the field as it does in the lab. The world’s most satisfied societies and successful economies do not adhere to a pure form of any political/economic ideology. They practice a reasonable mix of adjustable approaches that include elements of capitalism and socialism in which free markets are reasonably regulated by government to promote the general welfare.
America must solve its federal deficit-spending issue, but with common sense, not obstinate devotion to ideology. Reasonable people — whether Democrat, Republican or independent — have to purge Congress of ideological idiots.