Today is Saturday, October 12, 2013. We’re still in the middle of the shutdown with the House Republicans still trying to exercise their waning power over the situation. The polls are showing the devastating effect their political war against America has had on their approval and popularity. They are making a last ditch effort to undo the ACA, which they hate not because it’s flawed after being chewed up by the political process, but rather just because it equalizes marginalized people by removing the insurance industry’s ‘risk assessment’ in assigning coverage. This includes victims of HIV/AIDS, women’s family planning and birth control, and anyone with a pre-existing condition that would otherwise deny them coverage. And then there’s the ideological issue of ‘redistribution of wealth’. They chafe at the idea that there are subsidies, in order to get those who otherwise can’t get insurance, to enroll. They claim young men will pay more than anyone else and it’s their forced enrollment that subsidizes the older generation’s medical coverage. The argument over these issues ultimately led to the shutdown and the potential default on US debt.
This is what bothers me: The GOP has lost the last two elections for the Presidency. They’ve lost the last three senate elections. They did win the House in 2012, primarily because of gerrymandering the redistricting in conservative states, and they believe that gives them a mandate to end the ACA. They’ve offered over 40 bills to end the ACA and all of them failed the process because of lack of support. The tea partiers in the House, led by Ted Cruz, decided to shut the process down over the budget negotiations. They realized they could just ‘say no’ and the whole system would come to a screeching halt. The government would just shut down and stay inoperative until they forced Congress and the President to end the ACA. They believed they could do it and get away with it.
I just can’t get over the idea that they believed the Democrats would simply give up on universal health care coverage, a political goal since the mid 1930s, and after it was finally passed in both Houses, signed by the President, and approved by the Supreme Court, just let the tea party walk in and defund it. The tea party is delusional.
It strikes me that their behavior is an echo of the Old South in 1860-1861 when, rather than end their slavery and plantation system, Southerners opted to destroy the Union and create the ill-fated C.S.A. This sort of all-or-nothing mentality, this rigid ideological posturing, is the underlying principle in this current crisis as well and can’t be tolerated by the vast majority of reasonable, more flexible Americans.
Part of this rigid ideology is the tea party social agenda, which I’ve written about in an earlier blog. But last week a research project on the three political factions of the GOP, 1. tea party 2. evangelicals 3. traditional Republicans, revealed what I have suspected all along. Namely, there is a racial and gender paranoia within the GOP. There is an irrational feeling that white, straight, Christian men in the GOP feel uncomfortable in a world where women are not under their control, where Blacks, Hispanics and Asians constitute a majority, and gay people are out, visible, and have equal rights. The country they thought they knew and think they remember doesn’t exist anymore. A Black man with a ‘Muslim’ name is president. It’s complete anathema to them. As a friend recently said, the GOP is boldly going into a future they think they remember, and which never existed.
I think the GOP has miscalculated, mistaken and misunderstood the American people. It’s time they give up their illusions about America and their delusional notion that they can bend the will of the country in their direction through political extortion rather than a civil, political process.
Check out this research project: http://www.democracycorps.com/attachments/article/954/dcor%20rpp%20fg%20memo%20100313%20final.pdf