It’s getting pretty difficult to be pleasant in DC these days. And if you are going to discuss what is going on in DC these days (and who isn’t), it’s pretty tough to be pleasant just about anywhere else either. If you write, it’s mandatory that you write about what’s going on in DC these days and that means that there’s a good deal of unpleasant stuff being written, “go F*** yourself” being the least of it.
The problem is, that it’s way too late for “go fuck yourself.” First of all, it’s been taken. It is the official mantra of the so-called Tea Party Conservatives who have created the situation we are in and out of which there will be no easy exit. They have decided to say “go fuck yourself” to everyone, particularly the president, but they aren’t going to stop there. Women, minorities, immigrants, the poor, the hungry… anyone who does not believe exactly like they do can go fuck themselves.
They voted forty times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and when they failed through legitimate procedural processes to manage that, they decided to engage in a tactic tantamount to blackmail and tie the repeal or delay of the health care law to the budget crises. “We won’t deal with the budget even though the constitution we love to quote when it suits us says that’s our job unless the president agrees to delay or change the health care act that we voted into law.” That pretty much sums it up, right? The government isn’t shut down because Congress can’t agree on a budget. The government is shut down because the Tea Party Conservatives refuse to even talk about the budget unless the President of the United States agrees to their demands
Well, it depends on which side of the fence you are on whether that sums it up or not, but, factually, that’s the deal. Of course for Tea Party Conservatives, facts just get in the way most of the time. But it doesn’t really matter, because it’s now too late. The government is shut down, and the chances are that it is going to stay shut down for some time to come. That’s because having shut it down, any effort on the part of the conservative House to pass a budget NOT tied to the health care act will be seen (particularly by them) as a failure for their side and a win for the president, and that MUST NOT HAPPEN! And any capitulation by the President would set a precedent that would undermine the presidency for decades to come. (For a complete explanation of this see Jim Wright’s excellent essay on Stonekettle Station.)
So now they will try to tie health care to raising the deficit limit, primarily because every rational economist has said that if the US defaults on its debt it will create an international crisis and probably send the US back into a deep recession, and certainly that black SOB in the White House won’t let that happen and when he caves, WE WIN! That pretty much sums THAT up. And of course the international community can go fuck itself because this isn’t about them, and actually, America can go fuck itself because it isn’t really about our country either.
This is about three things: Jesus, Power, and Fear. And as a corollary, since it is about power, it is also about money.
We can start with the corollary. The money trail leads back to the Koch brothers. A recent Huffington Post article outlines again how the true origins of the so-called “Tea Party” are really the fertile machinations of Dick Armey and his Freedom Works lobby in DC funded, increasingly over time, by the Kochs. The “Tea Party” is simply the politically active Religious Right behind a mask of populism. The media played it up as a grassroots movement, but it was anything but.
Power comes into play over and over. To begin with, absolutely none of what’s going on in DC would be possible without the gerrymandering efforts in individual states which led to the current situation where over 80% of all the Republicans in the House are from “safe” districts. The chances of those districts ever voting a Democrat into the House is close to zero, at least until more redistricting occurs. Now that’s power. That’s a mandate to do whatever you want because, well, what can happen? And of the remaining 20%, most are districts of the older, more moderate Republicans. And they are looking over their shoulder.
In the last election Democratic House candidates received 1.17 million more votes than Republican House candidates, and yet the Democrats won only 46 percent of the seats open. That speaks to the power of money at the state level. It also speaks to the way Republicans plan to remain a viable political party. They may not win the presidency again for many years, but they WILL control the House.
You hear conservatives talking about “doing what their constituents want. And if you’re a liberal you might ask, “Who the hell are they talking about?” National polls show the majority of the American people don’t want the government shut down. They don’t want the budget tied to health care issues. They don’t want ANY of this. But those are national polls. And they don’t reflect what is going on in the heart of conservative districts any more than the votes cast in the last election reflected the makeup of the House.
We are divided beyond repair at this point, and it isn’t going to change any time soon. The only hope for change comes from two places: independent voters tired of the games and disgruntled Republicans who are willing to switch sides. And that’s one of the reasons the administration is going to maintain a hard line and give little away. You can hear the Democratic campaign rhetoric for 2014 already: Will you really put into office another member of the party that shut your country down and defaulted on the national debt for the first time in history? In seven more years some states may be able to redistrict again, and I think people will be watching more closely this time.
So unless there is a short term reprieve, we will default on the debt, at least briefly.
The question comes to mind, “Who are these people in these safe districts that elect representatives who think that their constituents want the government shut down?” Well, they are people who would like to see the government – as it is currently constituted – shut down. They are people who have been led to believe by other people with power and money and the gift of spin that the government is waging a war on their religion. The government is responsible for outlawing prayer in schools. Spin that a bit and you get a common theme among the RR that “you can’t even mention “God” in schools, but we’ve got a goddamn Muslim in the White House!
They are people who believe that the government opened the door for godless women to kill their unborn babies in defiance of God’s law.
They are people who believe that homosexuality is a sin and that the government is forcing them to live among sinners.
The government is allowing the sacrament of marriage to be defiled by those same sinners.
They are people who believe that the government passes out condoms in schools to promote sin among their children.
They are people who believe (with help from Rush and Fox News) that the government is waging a war on Christmas, Christians, and Jesus Christ himself.
They are not bad people. They are not evil people. They are terrified people. They are terrified because they have been led to believe that the thing they hold most dear is under attack by their own government. They are terrified by change. They are terrified because people who stand to gain from controlling how they vote are making them terrified. And they have been raised to believe. They believe what they are told from the pulpit and what Rush tells them and what Fox News indoctrinates them with.
And those same people, people with lots of money, want to keep them terrified. Because terrified people are easy to dupe. They are easy to lead. And when people are easy to dupe and easy to lead, they are easy marks.
And you cannot reason with these people. Facts are irrelevant. Or at least all but one fact is irrelevant. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and if you believe in Him you will be saved. Nothing else matters. Global climate change doesn’t matter. If you believe in that, you admit that science might be right. If science is right, maybe evolution has validity. That can’t be true since the bible clearly says it isn’t, therefore all science is a conspiracy to get you to forsake Jesus.
What happens in the in the earthly realm doesn’t matter. When the rapture comes, we will be judged. So what if we default on the debt? Who cares? Jesus is not interested in earthly things. His is the kingdom of heaven and there are no defaults in heaven. What matters is to get more people to believe in Jesus and be saved. When you are saved, nothing else really matters.
And the government has turned its back on Jesus. The government is damned to hell. Therefore, the government must go.
The government doesn’t seem to understand that there are black people and brown people all over the place threatening our way of life. There are more of them all the time sneaking into our country and the government won’t let us shoot them. The government actually wants to take our guns away so that we can’t shoot them and we can’t shoot the government either. The government reads our mail and listens in on our phones. That Kenyan or whatever he is forcing us to get medical insurance now and setting up death squads to decide who lives and who dies and we have to stop this madness.
We know these things because we hear about them in church and on the radio and on the television.
You cannot argue against any of this. You can’t argue in an environment where facts mean nothing. So there will be seats in the House filled with representatives of these terrified, unfortunate-but-saved voters for a long time to come. And those representatives have nothing to lose. And as a result they are very dangerous people. They have been given power and they want to use it. They are being given money by people like the Kochs to use their power to further the goals of groups like Freedom Works and that gives them more power. They have power, money, and they have Jesus on their side. You could shoot the SOB’s tomorrow and they would die happy.
And if they can’t have the presidency, then, by God, they’ll work to weaken it as hard as they can. They are not interested in doing their job. They are going about redefining the job. Not just their job, but jobs of everyone in government.
And that means that if you work on the other side of the aisle, your job is going to be unpleasant for a long time to come. It’s easy to see why young people working on the Hill who went there hoping to do some good in the world are discouraged and sometimes bitter. The Hill is not a place from which good things flow easily right now.
One of the worst things about all of this dysfunction in our government is how many bright young minds are being turned off and turned away from participating. Not that I can blame them, but it is a shame. This country never needed bright young minds more than it does now.
So, yeah, we’re way past “go f*** yourself.”
I’d say we’re firmly in the area of grab your ankles and say “Be gentle.”
Your Humble Servant,
The Willowbrook Curmudgeon