When matters become extremely dire and disheartening, as they have been in the blatantly dysfunctional
But for the life of me, I cannot recall an occasion when a minority of elected representatives with such an absurdly partisan agenda was capable of stopping the government of the United States in its tracks. To be sure, stoppages have happened before, but not with a looming
Clearly, most of the
Where does this irrational but obviously deep-felt impulse come from? Talk radio and
My initial impression was that they wanted to repeal the 20th century. Radical Republicans of the tea party persuasion object to all federal programs that have an impact on our daily lives, including
Now, I believe these radicals want to go even further back in time. Though it wouldn't be fair to pin a defense of slavery on them, they agree with the states' rights agenda of the Confederacy and resist the right of the federal government to make domestic policy, which is their visceral reason for loathing Obamacare.
But their ultimate destination, I believe, is the 1780s and our dysfunctional government under the Articles of Confederation. The states were sovereign in that post-revolutionary arrangement, and the federal government was virtually powerless. That is political paradise for the tea partiers, who might take comfort in the fact that their 18th century counterparts also refused to fund the national debt. Their core convictions are pre-Great Society, pre-New Deal, pre-Keynes, pre-Freud, pre-Darwin and pre-Constitution.
This is nostalgia on steroids, and an utter absurdity, defying more than 200 years of American history. But this, I believe, is where radical Republicans are really coming from. It makes comprehensible their deep disregard for the destructive consequences of their anti-government policies, for they truly believe that government is "them," not "us."
The heartening news is that their like-minded predecessors over the last two centuries have lost every major battle, starting with the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and ending with the congressional vote and the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.
The historical pattern is perfectly clear. They are going to lose again because they are running against the main currents of history. But along the way they are making all the rest of us pay a heavy price for their delusional agenda. And they really don't care.
Dysfunction this deep strikes me as a new low in American history. This is not what the founders had in mind.