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September 18, 2013


It appears that the inmates have taken over the asylum in the Republican Party. Tea party people within that party, threatening Democrats with shutdown and Republican incumbents with primary opponents, do not suffer from lack of either timidity or good manners. Republicans in the last election were voted out of the Oval Office and the Senate and (by an overall count of hundreds of thousands of votes) even the House (which would be Democratic today but for Republican gerrymandering at state levels). The bedrock of democracy is majority rule, and we do not have majority rule in the House. Measured by last fall’s overall vote reflecting the will of the people, we have minority rule in the House, an undemocratic result, and one, I predict, which will be reversed in 2014, even with the gerrymandered redistricting.

Tea party people have taken this rule by the minority a step further, i.e., they are a minority within a minority (I think), and are out on the stump and in TV studios pretending that either the majority in this country does what they as a minority want, or they will refuse to allow the government to pay obligations ALREADY INCURRED, thus amounting to voluntary default which, if it happens, may cost our treasury hundreds of billions of dollars in increased interest costs on federal obligations as Saudis and others seek more tranquil venues for their trillions (perhaps joined by other oil-rich countries and the Chinese as well). International oil tycoons are interested in safety and income, not juvenile domestic politics.

Reasons for the shutdown? (1) Obamacare. It has to go. We are doing just fine with our private insurers and their bonus-hungry executives; (2) Too much money to the poor and unemployed. We can’t afford it, especially with the necessary and additional tax cuts for the rich and corporate class upcoming; (3) Socialist interference with private enterprise. The government over-regulates business, over-taxes business and won’t let the sleeping giant awaken and make this economy hum (We tried that in 1929 and 2008, and are still economically scarred from both); (4) Union bosses. They have to be put in their place. Right to work laws aren’t enough. Private enterprise will let them know what their wages and working conditions are to be. We have to unleash private enterprise (read beat up on labor and help us go to China) if we are to prosper. (Who’s we, paleface? You are already prospering at historic heights while the rest of us are in near-recession economic states, and apparently favor austerity for the 99 percent and total freedom for the 1 percent to beat up on the rest of us.)

At the rate things are going in the tea party world, expect a threat of government shutdown and non-payment of EXISTING obligations if a Boy Scout and/or post office naming resolution does not go to suit them. These people are from all appearances childish and uncaring of consequence. Government is serious business in this country, and has been since Yorktown. We tried Articles of Confederation, but too much states rights proved such a federation untenable (though many these days want to go back to such a proven disaster in governing). We finally came up with a Constitution of federated states in 1789, but even that was not adequate to showcase Athenian democracy. We met again two years later and added the Bill of Rights (the Ten Amendments). The result was that we have the greatest governing document ever written (if we will be governed as adults).

The Republican party (as I have blogged several times before) needs to either go through the blood-letting of ridding itself of the tea party juveniles, or, alternatively, prepare themselves for Democratic electoral victories for the next 20 or more years. I am not a Republican, but I don’t want to see them descend to Whigdom (from whence they came) and become irrelevant to American politics. We need a two-party system so that the loyal opposition can identify mistakes of the majority (and vice versa) in order that the people can profit from the best government available to them from the compromises made by both parties in legislating. The substance of what is passed is, in my opinion, more important than the political configuration of those involved in passing such needed legislation, and I consider it more than unseemly that there are those who want to redo a fait accompli (see Obamacare).

What’s next? Shall we shut the government down and not pay our bills unless the Social Security Act (as amended) is repealed? Unless our trade treaties are nullified? The Sherman Anti-Trust Act? When and where does such insanity end? What happens when chaos reigns due to incoherence in governing? We are playing with fire, a fire which includes much more potential conflagration than cat fights about Obamacare, tax giveaways, voter suppression attempts etc. We are playing with the Constitution itself.

I am surprised that Republican party stalwarts have not already initiated such a housecleaning. They have to be aware of the demographics that are against them. They also have to be aware of the fact that poll after poll shows that the new surge of millennial voters are far more liberal than either current Democratic and Republican mainliners are. They have to be aware that the “solid south” is on the verge of cracking, beginning with (and soon), believe it or not, Texas. They have to be aware that their support of the rich and corporate class will not translate well among the poor and unemployed, who are watching their “shutdown and don’t pay your bills” mentality played out in the good name of America.

With such a future in plain view, an independent observer must wonder why the Republicans are doing nothing with their tea party element, which threatens chaos within both parties and governing principles of long standing in America. Indeed there are signs that the Republicans are ADOPTING tea party ideas with their sequesters, opposition to the deepening inequality suffered by the poor and working class (and even the middle class as family median income continues to fade), and now, according to the latest from Speaker of the House Boehner, we are informed that Republicans are going along with the shutdown and default on the country’s bills.

It is not my responsibility as a Democrat to lecture Republicans on what they must do to avoid irrelevancy, so I won’t. Going the way of the Whigs will be their choice. However, I will venture this piece of unsolicited advice to the Republican leadership: If you continue on your present political trajectory of appeasing rather than disciplining the tea party element within your ranks, then you are headed for oblivion for the next 50 years rather than the 20 years I predicted earlier in this essay. 1880 John Wayne politics will not sell in America’s future, whatever the libertarians among you would like to otherwise believe and support. He is dead, and so are the politics of the Gilded Age and its structural inequality you are trying to sell America. America is waking up. So should you.  GERALD  E


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