On This Shutdown Morning

Congressional Republicans Shower Affection on Constitutional Balance of Powers

The great Charles P. Pierce sums it up exactly:

We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too. We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government.


We did this. We looked at our great legacy of self-government and we handed ourselves over to the reign of morons.

This is what they came to Washington to do — to break the government of the United States. It doesn’t matter any more whether they’re doing it out of pure crackpot ideology, or at the behest of the various sugar daddies that back their campaigns, or at the instigation of their party’s mouthbreathing base. It may be any one of those reasons. It may be all of them. The government of the United States, in the first three words of its founding charter, belongs to all of us, and these people have broken it deliberately. The true hell of it, though, is that you could see this coming down through the years, all the way from Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address in which government “was” the problem, through Bill Clinton’s ameliorative nonsense about the era of big government being “over,” through the attempts to make a charlatan like Newt Gingrich into a scholar and an ambitious hack like Paul Ryan into a budget genius, and through all the endless attempts to find “common ground” and a “Third Way.” Ultimately, as we all wrapped ourselves in good intentions, a prion disease was eating away at the country’s higher functions. One of the ways you can acquire a prion disease is to eat right out of its skull the brains of an infected monkey. We are now seeing the country reeling and jabbering from the effects of the prion disease, but it was during the time of Reagan that the country ate the monkey brains.

And he issues a warning which is the most enervating part of all (because of its accuracy):

What is there to be done? The first and most important thing is to recognize how we came to this pass. Both sides did not do this. Both sides are not to blame. There is no compromise to be had here that will leave the current structure of the government intact. There can be no reward for this behavior. I am less sanguine than are many people that this whole thing will redound to the credit of the Democratic party. For that to happen, the country would have to make a nuanced judgment over who is to blame that, I believe, will be discouraged by the courtier press of the Beltway and that, in any case, the country has not shown itself capable of making. For that to happen, the Democratic party would have to be demonstrably ruthless enough to risk its own political standing to make the point, which the Democratic party never has shown itself capable of doing. With the vandals tucked away in safe, gerrymandered districts, and their control over state governments probably unshaken by events in Washington, there will be no great wave election that sweeps them out of power. I do not see profound political consequences for enough of them to change the character of a Congress gone delusional. The only real consequences will be felt by the millions of people affected by what this Congress has forced upon the nation, which was the whole point all along.

But just maybe, if all these things align: if the press does do their job consistently (by abandoning the ruinous “both sides” false narrative) AND the public, whatever their political leanings, does recognize that people who openly profess their hatred for government should never be voted into government AND for sweet baby Jeebus’ sake the goddamn “pragmatic” Democratic party structure stops thinking that attempting “bipartisanship” or compromise with arsonists is “adult” (or even sane) — MAYBE then, we can salvage something of what remains of our formerly eminently workable institutions of government. Those institutions and conventions were never perfect, but they have been a damn sight better in the past, when Republicans were like Eisenhower and Lincoln than what they are today. And they are certainly better than what this crop of nihilistic crybabies wants to see happen. Today’s crop doesn’t look like Lincoln, or Ike. They don’t look like Reagan. And many of ’em don’t even look (FSM help us) like George W. Bush. They’ve gone so far beyond that, it’s hard to think of a good comparison.

One thing is sure: this current crop of Republicans take their strategic cue from that hoary old Grover Norquist quote about wanting to make government weak enough to drown it in a bathtub. That quote’s longevity owes everything to the violence of its imagery: the picture not of reform or compromise or change, but of a brutal murder as the appropriate fate for America’s government. But as Republicans themselves are often fond of saying when the subject is threats from abroad or kidnappers within: the Unites States does not negotiate with terrorists. Only this time, they – these self-righteous-yet-shifty-looking tea weasels who represent barely 20% of the public (oddly, almost the exact same number who still supported George W. Bush at the end of his Presidency) – in their safely-red districts, ARE the terrorists.

Fuck you, TeaOP.

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