THE 'TEA PARTY', THE GOVERNMENT SHUT-DOWN AND THE AMERICAN POLITY: A COMMENT
"Republicans shutdown the government to defund or delay Obamacare. This goes to the heart of Republican base thinking about the essential political battle. They think they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support. It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegals; but insuring the uninsured dramatically grows those dependent on government. They believe this is an electoral strategy—not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican Party may be lost, in their view.... While many voters, even some Democrats, question whether Obama is succeeding and getting his agenda done, Republicans think he has won. The country may think gridlock has won, particularly during a Republican-led government shut down, but Republicans see a president who has fooled and manipulated the public, lied, and gotten his secret socialist-Marxist agenda done. Republicans and their kind of Americans are losing".Financial Times Blog titled 'Off Message': "Findings from the ‘Republican Party Project’". The Financial Times. 7 October 2013, in www.ft.com.
"It was not strange that efforts should be made to penetrate the Department, I continued. They had been made throughout its history. There was a right way and a wrong way to solve that problem. The right way met the evil and preserved the institution; the wrong way did not meet the evil and destroyed the institution. More than that, it destroyed the faith of the country in its Government, and of our allies in us....What had been going on reminded me of a recent horrible episode in Camden, New Jersey. A madman had appeared on the street and begun shooting people whom he met---a woman coming out of a store, a couple in a car stopped by a traffic light, another passing motorist---no plan, no purpose."Dean Acheson. Present at the Creation: My years in the State Department. (1969). p. 367.
"Suppose you are an idiot, and suppose you are a member of Congress, but I repeat myself."Ex-Secretary of State Robert Gates, quoting Mark Twain, 25 June 2013 at the Lotos Club in New York. The Tea Party inspired shut-down of the Federal Government, reminds one of nothing so much as a recurrence of what the late, great, Dean Acheson once characterized as 'the attack of the primitives' 1. Notwithstanding the differences in targets and paranoia, there is au fond, a great deal of congruity between the current crew of primitives (the Tea Party) and past episodes in American History. Including of course the anti-communist fanatics that Acheson dealt with in the late 1940's and early 1950's. The idea that the current American President, the ex-junior Senator from Illinois with the absurd name, is a 'socialist-Marxist', is a comical absurdity almost akin to the idea that Acheson, General Marshall and President Eisenhower were agents of the international Communist conspiracy. It is easy of course to make fun of the antics and the mental frailty of the Tea Party partisans, both inside and outside of Congress. Which is not to gainsay the fact that the fears and concerns of those who support the Tea Party are genuine. These are people, who in many cases, has seen their country changed dramatically in the past forty to fifty years. In ways that even those like myself, the arch-typical 'rootless cosmopolitan' find difficult to adjust to, much less endorse. The social and demographic changes in particular are at times difficult to swallow. Hence, perhaps the irrational aspect to the 'political style' of the Tea Party movement. In that respect, the Tea party being representative of a consistent, current in American life. What the late, great American historian, Richard Hofstadter, once correctly characterized as 'the paranoid style in American politics' 2. A style of politics which indeed, as Bernard Bailyn, has also shown, goes back to the American Revolution (King George III, as the head of the International Catholic Conspiracy, et cetera) 3. Notwithstanding this fact, it is a sheer challenge to one's intelligence and sanity to assume that a prolonged shut-down of the Federal Government, much less a default on its debt by the same, is a fruitful means of alleviating this felt longing for a return to a simpler and more organic America. 1. Acheson, op. cit., p. 354, and passim. 2. Richard Hofstadter. The Paranoid Style in American Politics. (1964). See also by the same author: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. (1969). 3. Bernard Bailyn. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. (1967).