The GOP House Speaker, John Boehner says the shutdown crisis “isn’t some damn game,” but there’s no doubt that the Republicans in Congress are indeed playing a game, and a very dangerous game it is. And what’s worse, Republican leaders are aware that what they are doing is suicidal as far as their party is concerned and homicidal as far as the nation goes. It’s happening because of a few yeast-brained fools who think that they’re making a grand stand for principles that even they are hard put to describe in meaningful terms. E. J. Dionne puts it perfectly; it’s “the Seinfeld Shutdown: It’s about absolutely nothing, at least where substance is concerned.”
How, you may be forgiven for asking, can responsible legislators lead the country into disaster to satisfy continually shifting and politically undigestable demands? The answer: consider the people doing the demanding. And you don’t have to go far to do it since we have here in Missouri more than a few legislators that suffer from the same delusions as the would-be leaders of the attempted GOP coup d’état in Washington D.C.
Let’s start with state Senator Ed Emery (R-31), who exemplifies the constitutional fetish common to so many GOP legislators who were agitating for the shutdown. To give you an idea about how bad it is, Emery holds that the vetoed gun bill, HB436, widely deemed by legal experts to have egregiously violated the Constitution, was “the most constitutional bill this year, not just in Missouri’s Legislature, but in any state.” Not surprisingly, he also insists that despite the contrary opinion of the Supreme Court, Obamacare is not only unconstitutional, but constitutes an overweening threat to God and Country:
One need know little about the origins and history of America and the origins and history of Obamacare to know that this fight is not about the survival of Obamacare or of a political party, it is about the survival of the Republic. …
I’m willing to bet that this poor schmuck, like plenty of the D.C. Tea Party contingent, really believes this sort of tripe. It’s based on an attitude that views the Constitution as a magical, quasi-religious icon that codifies the deepest wishes of ignorantly genuflecting true believers, rather than a mental construct that has to be intellectually apprehended. How else could Senator Emery ignore the constitutional authority of the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare? Garrett Epps points out some of the most common rightwing Constitutional errors and identifies some purely non-existent passages and words that are commonly bandied about by these folks, all of which allow them, in Epps words, to wave the Constitution “about like great-grandpa’s Confederate cavalry sword to demonstrate that we can’t have health care, or environmental protection, or whatever other policy they oppose today.”
Not surprisingly, you get a heaping serving of the stupid when you leaven this faux-constitutional fervor with the simplistic economic cliches current on the right – beautifully exemplified by state Rep. Mike Kelley (R-126), who baldly states that “the federal government is shutdown today and the last few days because it’s out of money!” That, of course, is untrue in general terms, and untrue when it comes to the claim that we cannot afford Obamacare; in fact, repealing Obamacare would actually increase the deficit.
So what we’re confronted with are a gang of none-too-bright legislators with a poor grasp of economics, tons of inbred prejudices, and heroic yearnings focused on a poorly digested understanding of the Constitution. In short, ripe for plucking.
And plucked they have been, as the the New York Times made clear in a recent article on the evolution of the shutdown which traces its roots to months of planning on the part of rightwing groups such as Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action for America and others, all generously funded by titans of industry like the Koch brothers, and happily steering the equally dim-witted federal analogues of Emery and Kelley into our current disaster. The goal? To destroy any legislation that would slow progress towards a United States of America that more closely resembles those third-world, free-market paradises where many of these “job-creators” have already gone to do their low-cost creating.