Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Senator Harry Reid is a soft-spoken man. Even when speaking into a microphone, he doesn’t manage to raise his voice enough to sound convicted or convincing. His counterparts in the House--Speaker John Boehner or the real G.O. Tea leaders, Representatives Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor--speak forcefully, their passion apparent though restrained in the true spirit of self-righteous zeal.
Perhaps this difference between Senate and House leadership is the root of media's attention. Boehner, Ryan, and Cantor’s scripted rhetoric gets lots of air time while Reid’s does not. He just doesn’t seem to command attention. Right now, he should because he characterized the current architects of an impasse as anarchists, and I agree, something I can’t often say about Senator Reid. His attempts to read a murky crystal ball for answers about the future of filibusters is just one of his many mistakes, but he has read the Tea leaves better: The G.O. Tea is a party of anarchy.
First, let's review the meaning of anarchy: a state of confusion and disorder. It may manifest as insubordination and disobedience. It follows then that an anarchist is a person who promotes disorder or excites revolt against any established rule, law, or custom by being insubordinate and disobedient.
These days in these United States may be accurately described as days of confusion and disorder. Printed evidence exists proving that the G.O. Tea Party intended to disobey its duties in spite of having sworn to uphold those Constitutional duties upon taking office. In fact, Republicans met and vowed to undermine President Obama and his agenda on the night he was elected. Disingenuous declarations to the American people by the GOP is additional evidence that they wish to promote disorder and excite revolt against President Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and many other departments and programs enacted as law. They use the paint of propaganda to persuade people that health care should be the privilege of those able to afford it while those poor souls who cannot work or lack work sufficient to support basic needs must sicken and die. But the duty of Congressmen is not to propagandize, divide, and demonize, not to defy, deny, and demonstrate their willingness to let people suffer. Their duty is to submit legislation for examination, defend it with facts, and accept the judgment of voting constituencies.
These are not only days of confusion and disorder, they are days when insubordination and disobedience are held in high regard. G. O. Tea Party members and sympathizers declare that their freedoms are in jeopardy, but they are free to travel to and from the nation’s capitol city, free to spout truth and lies, free to meet and plan, free to make and give money, free to pursue happiness and avoid suffering, free to provide for their families, free to wear placards and tees that depict duly elected officials as Batman’s Joker or history’s villains.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer felt sufficiently free and empowered by her Right-wing constituency that she pointed a finger in the face of the nation’s president, a gesture that would not be abided by most parents of willful children, but one she defended by claiming to be animated by nature and accusing the President of being “thin-skinned.” G.O. Tea Party members and sympathizers cheered her show of disrespect. South Carolina’s House Representative Joe Wilson enjoyed similar acclaim after he jeered, “You lie!” during the President’s State of the Union address in 2009. His bodacious critique defies all custom of decorum and may become a paradigm for this era of incivility. I expect better from leaders of both parties, any state, and any national office.
I expect them to live up to and exceed a basic standard of professionalism, including and especially by doing their duty not to engage in razzle, dazzle, insult or injury, but G.O.Tea Party members refuse, as others have pointed out, to accept a law duly passed and litigated. This is perhaps the most telling proof of Congress’s dereliction of duty, of its anarchic leanings. Congress has an enumerated Constitutional duty to raise revenue and fund laws duly passed. Instead, amendments to the first budget bill to the budget proposal specifically removed a key Affordable Care Act funding provision, a tax on medical equipment in full knowledge that doing so would increase the deficit and cripple a law. Their professed determination to save us from drowning in federal deficits was subsumed in their opposition to a law they cannot and will not debate or amend.
Furthermore, GO-Tea Party members seem confused or disingenuous about the function of a debt ceiling. Their rhetoric suggests that raising the debt limit would give President Obama license to spend, spend, spend us into becoming a broken, bankrupt nation. But facts do not support them. Here are just a few:
• President Obama is not solely responsible for the national debt.
• President Obama is not the architect of the federal budget.
• The Constitution gives check-writing responsibilities to Congress, not the Executive branch.
Thus, whoever sits in the Oval Office may legitimately point a finger of blame at Congress for any deficits and remedies are within their purview. If doing so fell within my purview, I would charge every House Republican and each of the seventeen Democrats who voted to shut the government down in order to defeat Obamacare and crush the government with two counts: 1) hypocrisy that strains belief and 2) treason. They are engaged in a campaign to confuse and disobey. They do not cherish this nation or the documents upon which it was founded.
The Tea Party-Libertarian incarnation of the Grand Old (Republican) Party is traitorous. Its avowed purpose is to overthrow the government as we know it. People must vigorously oppose the G.O. Tea and its rhetoric by switching their political party affiliation, becoming well-informed about gerrymandering, and by voting for candidates who believe in the Constitution and government. It can and often has served us well.