American Culture

I hate to say it, but the GOP is right

I hope you didn’t sprain anything or break anything irreplaceable.  For what it’s worth, you people have no idea how hard it is to resist the trite “wipe coffee off monitor” quip at this juncture.

Bear with me.

Time and again we hear the GOP, establishment and fringe alike, tell us that we’ve got too much government. Never mind the irony of a party that practices medicine without a license by way of routinely mandating transvaginal ultrasounds telling us what too much government is. Just, um, never mind. Never mind a lot of horribly invasive “small” government ironies.

Damn, it’s hard to do this with a straight face.

Let me try again.

We’ve been through quite a few government shutdowns now. Whoever did whatever to whomever first, and however long these shutdowns have lasted, not a single one of them has actually turned into a fallen sky moment. Sure, there have always been cries of “the sky is falling!” There may have even been a few times where it dropped down a few inches. But it hasn’t crashed to the ground. In plainer words, our republic has remained whole for some value of whole.

That’s right. Seventeen separate spending gaps/shutdowns since 1976 and not once have we erupted into civil war as a result. The republic hasn’t collapsed. There have been no obvious military coups. After enough fit-throwing, both sides of the aisle eventually catch enough hell from back home (at least I like to think so), compromises are worked out, and life goes on through the next election cycle, and the next, and the next.

To the extent that we have not become the Balkanized States of Mayhem, it turns out that the GOP is right after all. Clearly, if all we need to remain functional are the “essential services” and we can shut down absolutely everything else and remain whole as a nation, we have far too much damned government.

The problem is that they are right only for the length of a shutdown. Beyond that? It’s all conjecture. Stopped clocks are right twice a day. It might just be that the GOP is also right…for three days at a stretch, or five, or twenty-one. I say we give them all the rope they want and see how long they stay right.

Consider for a moment that I’m the jackass that endorsed Romney for all the wrong reasons. I also wholeheartedly endorse the shutdown for all the wrong reasons. President Obama and the Senate should hold firm, giving not a single inch, as should the GOP. Let the shutdown last for months. Let trickle-down/ripple-out failure spread far and wide. Let it cost jobs, homes, plant closures, foreclosures, every imaginable default, every indignity, every injury, every conceivable suffering, even death.

@anildash: One of my closest friends treats kids with cancer at the National Cancer Institute; Today they’re planning for how to shut down tomorrow.

While the economic devastation trickles into torrents and ripples into rolling waves, we can all take a break from the hassles of gainful employment, home maintenance, self care, even eating, and consider why exactly it was that the Articles of Confederation were such an abysmal failure. We can take solace in the fact that, while all of us suffer, it will be the red/taker states that suffer most without a federal teat from which to suckle.

And maybe, just maybe, the next time there’s a slate of nincompoops, imbeciles, nitwits, and drooling cretins running on a platform of Small Government Up Your Vagina for Fag-Hating Corporate Warmonger Jesus on a Pipeline, enough of the rest of us will turn up with pitchforks in one hand and voter registration forms in the other to make a lasting fucking difference.

We get the government we deserve.

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Image credit: Adapted from photo by Jasoon @ flikr.com. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Cross-posted from Ars Skeptica.

9 replies »

  1. If we want to split a rock just look for a crack then stick a small wedge in it and start hitting it with a hammer. It’s amazing what little effort is required to break the thing in two.

    If we consider America as the rock, money as the wedge, and special interests as the hammer then it’s fairly easy to see where this split between two very similar groups has come from.

    We’re all cut from the same cloth and eat breath live love exactly as our neighbors yet have come to believe that we are each others enemy. Not true, the only enemy is the increasingly divisive use of private money to subvert public officials from acting on behalf of the whole.

    The TEA party is not the Taliban and Obama is not the Muslim Anti-Christ, those are orchestrated illusions to distract us from the truth. Term limits will not fix this, we need to demand campaign finance reform that takes the politicians out of the Kochs and Soros pockets and puts them back to work for the American people.

    Remove the hammer and the wedge and we will be one again.

  2. OK, Frank, as I type this I am holding my breath. Obviously I don’t need to breathe.

    The idea is not and has not been for many years that the government only provide essential services, but rather that they provide a set of services that we agree we want and that are best provided by government. At the end of the day, virtually nothing is truly essential. In the old days, government’s didn’t even provide roads, entrepreneurs did (although governments certainly played a role through back door measures like land grants.)

    If the GOP wants to shut down govt, they should also man up and shut down defense and Soc Sec, but they won’t do that, the racist cowards.

  3. I’ve made it a point not to comment on others spelling and syntax errors in these discussions Otherwise and focus on intent instead. I’d appreciate the same courtesy in return.

    As to the rest I take it that you disagree we have a systemic problem that goes beyond party lines? Frank places the blame for government dysfunction squarely on Republican shoulders, and while I might agree the crisis du jour superficially appears that way, I would suggest in deeper analysis this cancer grows far beyond simple affiliations.

    And racism, really? What possible connection do you find in misguided attempts to short sheet the ACA and racism? Self-serving ignorance absolutely, but we’re all taking the screwing not any one disadvantaged subset that I can fathom.

    • Frank: I guess we’ll never know, but I always wonder how GOP behavior would be different if poverty were more generally associated with white people than with black. As you know, I grew up in a place that sort of makes me ask these kinds of questions.

      • I grew up in Appalachia Sam, the first image that comes to my mind of poor people is rag tag hand me down snot nose Scots-Irish white kids with dirty bare feet whose best possible outcome was growing up to be a coal miner or a coal miner’s wife. Now with the decline of coal, meth cooker/dealer are the only high paying jobs. Democrats own that one.

        We can bat poverty around, we can bat racism around, but as symptoms rather than causes how much gain are we going to get? We can demonize and marginalize half the country, e.g. “nincompoops, imbeciles, nitwits, and drooling cretins running on a platform of Small Government Up Your Vagina for Fag-Hating Corporate Warmonger Jesus on a Pipeline” for what positive outcome?

        I like to fix things. Isolate the problem, design a solution, and fix the son of a bitch. Your “New Constitution” series was an eye opener for me and the shining gem of it was the concept that private money is corrupting public office. A growing patronage system where pay to play insures private interests benefit while the public at large sucks hind teat. Problem isolated.

        Your amendment to uncouple private money from public office offers the framework of a designed solution. Lots of details to work out but the basis is there. Stop the Kochs and Soros and GM and the Teamsters and the Evangelicals and every other quasi charity/business entity/social club that thinks baksheesh is the way to get ahead. Stop ’em cold and put politicians back on the public payroll.

        That is the gist of my complaint about Frank or Otherwise or anyone else blaming all our ills on the half of the country we don’t agree with. It’s smoke without substance, and at best treating symptoms without addressing root cause. America will always be a Chimera but we don’t have to keep biting ourselves in the ass for no good purpose.

        • Thanks for the responses, Frank. Please note that I specify nincompoops, etc. that run on a platform. That’s an intentional jab at the very small fraction of our nation that run for office, in particular the ones that run on what passes for a GOP platform these days.

          When I refer to “the rest of us,” I made it a point to not include any party purity litmus tests there. Genuinely conservative voters should be every bit as outraged as all of the other voters.

          For what it’s worth, I was being generous in my nincompoop, etc. assessment, insofar as I gave them credit for face value. If I instead assume for the sake of my post that this cabal of braying jackasses is actually intelligent, intelligent enough to at least rack up degrees with the best C’s money can buy, practice law, etc.,, which I think is the case, then I chalk up their words and deeds to outright evil.

  4. I think I get it Frank, it’s a rant. No solutions offered nor need for comment requested. Just railing against the cold hard wind. Cool, I respect your artistic right to elucidate vehemently.

    I have to watch myself going off on a mental bender like this though. It’s too easy to let righteous indignation turn into a rabid dog furiously biting itself.

    • Perhaps you do get it, Frank. Perhaps you do. This kind of back and forth is why I generally don’t indulge in the comments section unless I feel the need, as I did this time, to clarify my own words when someone else comes along and misrepresents them when they are both a) really quite clear, and b) just a few inches higher on the screen. If I assume you do get it, though, I have to wonder why you would feign civility while only bothering with the thinnest veneer of it.

      Let’s see. Either you don’t like the point, or you don’t like the tone, so you dismiss it as a rant. I guess that’s easier than pointing out errors either in the facts as I assert them or in the conclusions I reach.

      You prompt my reply by egregiously misstating my case then, rather than even bringing that up again, you go after style rather than substance. In doing so, you misstate my case again, just differently. You say I offer no solutions. I guess, “next time you see an extremist running for the opposition, it’s time to Get Out the Vote,” doesn’t count unless I spell it out simply enough for publication in USA Today.

      Am I just railing against a cold hard wind? Most days I feel like it, but not all. Some days my approach actually gets through and reaches someone. Sometimes I get an “amen!” from the back row in the form of a like or a share. If I’ve helped galvanize someone else who takes real action differently, awesome! That’s why many bloggers blog. Dismissing that is, in my opinion, more corrosive to civic discourse than the rant so maligned. Is this an example of you proposing a solution? How does that translate to action? Maybe, “impassioned speech is futile, so sit down and shut up?”

      Rabid dogs biting themselves, indeed. Your apt metaphor is duly noted. Methinks the doctor would do well to taste his own prescription. Here’s some more elucidation and a solution for ya. When you show up in the comments, misstate the author’s position twice, refuse to make a substantive case, go after style, and feign politeness so poorly that the condescension just oozes from your words, some readers are apt to think you project a bit. Stop biting yourself. It makes you look, how shall I put it politely? Intellectually dishonest.

  5. Frank, we’ve chased each other around the barn several times previously without major carnage, I’m sorry you take my tone as pejorative, I certainly didn’t start out with that intent. Cut to the bone here’s what I got from your words…GOP Bad.

    I agree, as a Republican I feel very poorly served by men and women who make bankers whole while shaving SNAP and Head Start benefits. That is indeed outright evil. As is holding the country hostage trying to murder ACA legislation that is already passed. If not evil at the least ignorant. Yet it begs the question, are things better, more humane, more progressive on the other side of the aisle?

    If Guantanamo was closed, if our troops were headed home, if the DOJ was prosecuting bankers I’d switch sides in a heartbeat. Nothing has changed though, put a cowboy hat on Obama and he’s Bush 43 with a good tan.

    So, your solution of voting the GOP out without systemic change doesn’t work for me. Vote them out for whom? All Democrats? How is that going to work? More PayPal Politicians, only now they’re all on the same meal ticket together? Christ man think it through.

    The only way we’re going to fix this clusterfuck is turning off the cash pipeline of private interests flowing into public pockets. How do we do that? Start talking about it, and I am doing exactly that with anyone who will listen.

    Peace