14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America: (Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.)
VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA – People who still live in democracies can only shake their heads in bewilderment as they watch the gong show that the political process of the United States has become.
At a time when the country’s deficit is dropping faster than ever before, when the economy is in recovery from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and at a time when a second general election has confirmed the country’s desire for affordable health insurance for all citizens, the Republican Party is currently kowtowing to its most radical fringe elements. This isn’t new, but it is now threatening to shut down the government if it doesn’t get its way to repeal a law (the Affordable Health Care Act) that has been repeatedly affirmed in Congress despite over forty defeated votes to accomplish the same thing. Not satisfied with the democratic way of legislating, the Tea Party faction of the Republicans is holding the country hostage to its radical minority fringe viewpoint.
The Republicans are deathly afraid that the Affordable Health Care Act will meet with the approval of the people. They have gone all-in on their objection to what the electorate has repeatedly and consistently given a mandate; the result is that, in the event “Obama Care” is implemented and succeeds, they will be seen for what they are: a cabal of anti-democratic, obstructionists without a coherent plan other than undermining democracy at any cost. They have no coherent agenda with one exception: obstruct anything proposed or supported by Barack Obama, and ensure that his presidency is a failure. Just why that is their raison d’etre is clearly at least partly mired in their inherent racism, but encompasses a variety of other nearly equally unsavoury reasons; their desire to separate further the rich from the poor, their desire to eliminate most, if not all government, their contempt for anything that isn’t sharp-elbowed, mean-spirited, selfish greed.
For the first time in history, a small group of ideologues in Congress is tying the debt ceiling to their partisan agenda. Despite the 14th amendment quoted above, they are refusing to permit the administration to pay government debts – debts that they incurred – unless the president caves in to demands that they can’t achieve through the democratic process in the legislature. The two related threats that they are holding over Congress, the administration, and the United States itself, are: 1) Unless a law (the Affordable Health Care Act) that they was confirmed in two general elections and over forty congressional votes is repealed, they will force the government itself to shut down, and 2) Unless that law is repealed, they will ensure that United States of America does not honour its obligations to people who put their trust in the integrity of the United States government, doing untold damage to the economy of the country and, by extension, the world.
Fortunately, Obama has repeatedly said that he flatly refuses to negotiate on the debt ceiling; it remains to be seen what will occur if this comes to a stand-off. Will Obama simply order the treasury department to pay debts despite Congress? What will Congress do if Obama opts to uphold the constitution in the face of their attempt to circumvent it?
They claim that their reason behind this betrayal of their offices and of the country is that the law they hate with such passion is likely to cause economic harm to the country. That at least is their stated reason. If it really is, then clearly that small group of fanatics is far more dangerously delusional than they would seem at first glance; they have to know that the damage caused by a government shutdown or a failure to service their debts would cause infinitely greater, and probably irreversible, damage to the economy which they pretend to care so much about.
The filibustering by egomaniacal windbags like Ted Cruz, the lies about death panels and the like promulgated by simple minded nitwits like Michele Bachman, and the general air of vitriolic, hate-filled confrontation fed by the Tea Party has nothing to do with what is good for the country. It has to do with petulant children threatening to hold their breath until they turn blue. These people have all said that they despise government (although they sought office and cashed their government paychecks, and those who are still in office continue to do so) and want to eliminate it. That, in itself, makes them rank hypocrites. That it makes them profoundly stupid goes without saying.
Assuming the United States survives the undermining of its legislature, its social contract, and its national solidarity, an undermining deliberately and cynically carried out by those who stand to benefit if the country continues its degeneration into a 3rd World banana republic, history will show the Tea Party obstructionists to have been a rabble of vandals of democracy. The sheer greed and self-absorbed nastiness of the current right-wing ideologues will, in some future, more rational period be looked back upon in disgust and loathing. Either that or they will succeed, and the world’s greatest experiment in democracy will have foundered after only two hundred and fifty years.