To find a perfect portrait of the dystopian nightmare that plagues the otherwise pristine, Aryan dreamscape of the Republican Party, one need look no further than NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre’s recent speech at the annual conservative circle-jerk known to the world as CPAC. In Hofstadter’s tradition, Mr. LaPierre is the paranoid…
“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
–Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform, 2004
“We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
–Marlin Stutzman (R-Indiana), U.S. House Of Representatives, 2013
These two quotes, issued from the mouths of Tea Party demagogues, stand in obvious contradiction to each other. But together, they perfectly illustrate the dangerously schizophrenic nature of today’s Republican Party, and just how mindlessly driven by hate and fear they have become. The Republicans have failed to either realize or acknowledge something of critical importance: while they may be losing short-term ground in the shutdown battle, when it comes to their long-term agenda – dismantling a government they see “as the enemy, an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans, to the detriment of everyone else,” according to Joan Walsh on Salon.com – they’re winning. Consider the following, taken from yesterday’s International Business Times:
“For weeks, neither Democrats nor Republicans have mentioned the fact that Democrats, for the sake of keeping the government open, agreed to House Speaker John Boehner’s request to pass a short-term spending bill that does not touch the automatic spending cuts, called sequestration, currently in effect. But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., began to bring up the issue.
When Senate Democrats passed what has been referred to as a “clean CR” — a continuing resolution to fund the government without any anti-Obamacare provisions attached — they did so at the sequester level, essentially conceding that they were not going to get their way on spending, at least not now. If the House and Senate ultimately go to a conference to hash out their two budget agreements, then the spending level will be up for negotiation again.”
This is a major concession from the Democrats; even if Speaker Boehner were to concede this victory right now and pass a clean CR, it would merely mean a return to sequestration status quo, which has already crippled tens if not hundreds of thousands nationwide. And with rumors of yet another round of “grand bargain” talks on the horizon, it’s hard to wonder just how firm Democratic resolve will remain as the shutdown crawls inexorably, painfully on. When Nancy Pelosi resorts to public apologies for not pleading loudly enough for mercy to the Republicans, you know the public is in trouble.
Never ones to allow their victim the dignity of a graceful defeat, the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party continues to flog the remainder of the House into submission, refusing to accept the Democrats’ sequester concessions in favor of their pursuit of the repeal and/or delay and/or defunding and/or whatever of the Affordable Care Act. IBT reports:
“From the Republicans’ point of view, however, CR spending levels are seen as holding the line rather than a victory. And with conservative primary challengers waiting in the wings, many Republican members could run into opposition from the right if they try to sell the spending level as a win and move on. . . . But their strategy of avoiding a budget conference and using crises to pass legislation has succeeded in bringing down spending levels. It led to the beginnings of sequestration in the 2011 Budget Control Act, and to the implementation of the cuts beginning in 2013.”
So even if they lose the fight over Obamacare (which they most likely will, by the way; according to the Washington Post, “Obama has little reason to engage Boehner until the latter supplies more specifics. . . . If the speaker is seeking cover for another defund-Obamacare gambit, the White House should not bite.”), they’ll still have managed to chip yet another layer of protection and support away for millions of struggling Americans at a time when they desperately need it. They’ll also have managed to do enough peacocking (I’m looking at you, Ted Cruz) to satiate, albeit temporarily, the bottomless appetite for machismo and hippie-punching at the base, going a long way toward maintaining their stranglehold on the House through the 2014 mid-terms. Even failing that, the agenda will be preserved: there’s an endless supply of Republican wind-up tin soldiers ready to be paraded out the moment any one of them outlives their usefulness, eager to talk about how climate change is a hoax, Obama is the Devil Incarnate, and how the ACA is no different than crack cocaine.
Many pundits have pontificated that the current government shutdown is merely a byproduct of the fight over Obamacare, unrelated to other events. They couldn’t be more incorrect. From Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” to the tackiness of Old Man Reagan’s “welfare queens” to Newt “Babyface” Gingrich’s incessant labelling of Obama as the “food stamp president”, the conservative movement has been on a forty-year blitzkrieg against the “nanny state”, having utterly convinced themselves long ago that the only thing holding the great unwashed masses back from rising up and decimating America’s Great White Plutonomic Heritage is a perpetual boot to the throat. In addition, a sycophantic, simpering corporate media establishment has refused to draw the connection between this current debacle and all those that have come before it, firmly convinced that balance trumps accuracy when it comes to earning ratings . . . and paychecks. The way things are going, it won’t be long before Grover Norquist will be able to spare the bathtub and spoil the bucket when it comes to his drowning victims. Petit mort, anyone?