Now that the Tea Party has taken its ball and gone home, leaving the government of the United States in shutdown, we sadly must all admit that, while awful, this closure is far from the worst thing to befall us. OK–perhaps “befall” is inaccurate, in that it implies something happening to us, when in reality this whole farce is self-inflicted. It is a strike, simply, by a childish minority in the House which refuses to accept that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has three times carried the day: Congress did pass it, after all, the Supreme Court upheld it, and the president was re-elected. The time for discussing it has passed. I suspect what really stirs the Tea Party hearts is how lamentably they have failed. Not only will the ACA wade forward into our collective mindset, it will become as accepted and successful as Social Security. And from the start these people thought to slur the President’s efforts by referring to the ACA as Obamacare–as if some Kenyan socialist was meddling with the world’s best health care system. Just think if the Republicans of a couple of generations ago were as short-sighted as these we’re presently saddled with. We wouldn’t have Social Security–we’d have, after FDR, something like Roosecurity: a popular program that, if nothing else, would serve to further FDR’s name in history. They should let it go.
Not so the debt ceiling, which we are set to hit the day this paper comes out. It verges on the treasonous that we are, without a resolution to raise it, yet again so perilously close to default. The last time we toyed with not upping our debt limit, in 2011, the result was a downgrade of our credit rating for the first time in this country’s history and a cost to the taxpayer of an estimated $1.3 billion in increased interest. Of course, we did raise the ceiling, but in approaching it so closely the damage was done. Again, self-inflicted. And this from the party that has traditionally billed itself as that of fiscal responsibility!
This isn’t America–or is it? Is this what we’ve become?
Are we the globe-leading superpower, which after World War II imposed a pax Americana on a broken world, or are we 300 million hostages to some fifty-odd House crackpots? Yet it’s not merely our own citizenry in the balance: Where is the “full faith and credit” of the United Sates if it defaults, and where does that leave the global economy?
This is the handgrenade that the Tea Party has rolled under the dinner table. Yes, it’s a huge problem for every economy, and ours in particular, but it may be an extinction event for the Republicans–who are predominantly blamed for the current impasse. In failing to reign in the Tea Party, the Republicans have become controlled by them–and now, with Congress enjoying an historically low 13% approval rating, the future of the right in this country looks to be fracturing. I see a more traditional, if toothless, Republican minority hedged in Congress by Tea Party ideology on one side and by a Democratic majority on the other.
This is how the 2014 mid-term elections look to me: The Republicans will be routed. They are dragging behind them a legacy of blackmail and obstruction which has finally, with this federal government shut down and looming debt crisis, showed itself to be untenable and will likely cause the U.S. taxpayer billions. It’s incalculable what it will cost the world as a whole. Picture it like this. If you took a long road trip with a group of friends, only one of whom was allowed to drive, and this friend had to stop every five miles to legislate your route, he’d be out of the car before the car got out of the county.
It’s time to throw the Tea Party out of the car.