Has any political party in American history been crazier than the current Tea Party-fueled antics of Congressional Republicans?
Not in my lifetime. And I'm getting to be damn old (65 next month).
Threatening a shutdown of the federal government because of Affordable Care Act hatred, along with holding the nation's economy hostage with a threatened refusal to pay bills Congress already has incurred (a.k.a. not raising the debt limit) for the same reason -- this is new Crazy Territory.
Listening to reasonable talk radio today, I heard a historian say that maybe, just maybe, politicians in the mid-1800's acted even crazier. But that craziness led to the Civil War.
Which isn't a ringing endorsement of today's not-so-grand GOP.
Yesterday Paul Krugman wrote about "The Crazy Party." Right on, Paul.
In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.
I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown — and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default — the time for euphemism is past.
It helps, I think, to understand just how unprecedented today’s political climate really is.
...Most of the time divided government led to compromise; sometimes to stalemate. Nobody even considered the possibility that a party might try to achieve its agenda, not through the constitutional process, but through blackmail — by threatening to bring the federal government, and maybe the whole economy, to its knees unless its demands were met.
It was a Tweet, I believe, where I saw something like "Imagine if Democrats had demanded that Bush withdraw all troops from Iraq before they would raise the debt ceiling."
That's a pretty good analogy to what Congressional Republicans are doing. And they have no standing, no mandate, no support for doing it. They lost the 2012 elections handily, as Rachel Maddow points out. Last year we had a big debate about the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.
Romney made that a central aspect of his presidential campaign. So did Obama. Obama won. The people of the United States spoke. Democrats added seats in the House and Senate.
These are not minor details. We have a constitutional system of government and free national elections in which we, the people, help set a course for our country. GOP candidates made their case, lost, and forfeited their claims to a popular mandate.
And yet, when it came time to govern, Republicans decided it was still time to pursue an aggressive, right-wing agenda, predicated on manufactured crises, extortion politics, a misguided culture war, and non-negotiable demands.
We've all heard the "elections have consequences" adage many times, but let's be clear about what we're witnessing in 2013: Republicans are very clearly telling the country, "No, actually, elections don't have consequences. We're still going to do as we please."
Democracies aren't supposed to work this way.
No, but when crazies are allowed to take control of Republican caucuses, it isn't surprising that unprecedented craziness prevails. Recognizing reality, never a strong suit of the GOP, has faded away completely.
It's virtually certain that the Affordable Care Act isn't going to be done away with or defunded. Senate Democrats and President Obama won't agree to taking away health insurance from 30 million or so people, and rescuing many millions of other private insurance policy holders from the nasty games insurors play.
Yet it sure seems like House Republicans are blind to that fact. Today they held a "ghoulish defunding rally."
The party atmosphere was so boisterous, the cheers and laughter so loud, that it was easy to forget everyone in the room had just voted to keep tens of millions of people from getting health insurance.
By keeping spending at its current levels through mid-December, they had also voted to continue the sequester, which is preventing millions of people from getting public housing subsidies, Head Start seats, and unemployment benefits. The sequester is also taking a serious toll on scientific research and investment in infrastructure, not to mention its infuriating drag on employment and the economic recovery. How about another round of applause?
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course, from a House that had voted the previous day to cut food stamps for 3.8 million low-income people, including many very young and very old recipients. But at least they didn’t have a party to celebrate that vote.
There is something seriously wrong with the Republican Party these days.
I speak as someone whose mother was as avid a Republican as could be imagined in the 1950s and 1960s. I read National Review along with her. I went to see Ronald Reagan campaign for California governor along with her. Until I went to college, I embraced the conservatism that my mother knew, expounded, and loved.
Believe me, it wasn't anything like what passes for conservatism these days -- which is anything but conservative. Back then, conservatives believed in conserving the environment. Back then, conservatives believed in rational, reasonable policy debates.
No more. The crazies have made the Republican Party into a political insane asylum. Which will come back to bite them.
Americans have watched the economy crawl back from near-depression levels. Jobs are coming back. The stock market has come way back, to new highs. All that is threatened by a federal government shutdown and failure to raise the debt limit.
Failing to finance the federal government and to pay the bills already incurred (by both Republicans and Democrats) is no joke. Borrowing costs will skyrocket. Consumer confidence will be shaken. Business uncertainty will shoot up.
What's astounding is that Republicans fail to realize that the Affordable Care Act will keep on chugging along through all of this craziness. Its funding is from non-discretionary sources. Problems in implementation, which are inevitable, can be explained away by Republican interference.
Sane politicians would recognize this. Crazy ones wouldn't. I only hope there are enough mentally healthy politicians in today's GOP to stop the crazies from taking the United States over an economic cliff.