Monday, October 7, 2013

The Scariest Halloween Tale Yet

While kids from all over America are already choosing, buying, and assembling their Halloween costumes, many adults are also getting ready for the season by building haunted houses and polishing up their best scary stories.

While we've always been partial to the tale of the headless horseman, the scariest story we can think of right now is the story of the headless, spineless Republican Party, and the horse they rode in on.

Elections used to have consequences, and everyone involved understood - if you lose the election, you don't get to push your agenda through Congress. Your side guts its political teams, you push away or minimize your more troublesome donors, and quietly but vigorously spend the next few years finding better candidates, so that you can retake Congress - and then you can push your agenda.

Instead, according to a report released over the weekend in the New York Times, the GOP - led by its extreme right wing - spent the months after their brutal 2012 loss by planning both the federal shutdown crisis and the looming debt ceiling crisis in a insane attempt to get by blackmail what they couldn't get at the polls.

That's right, Republicans. This shutdown? You built that. Further, if Republicans in Congress use this shutdown and the even more scary debt ceiling to cut off the head of the American economy? The GOP will own that disaster as well.

That doesn't mean Democratic, Independent, and even politically unaffiliated Americans don't share some of the blame for putting us through this economic horror story. As Jonathan Chait noted over the weekend, the unexploded ordnance of the debt ceiling is a weapon Americans have left lying around in the machinery of our government for a some time - but it's a weapon only "the most ideologically hardened or borderline sociopathic" would use.

As both Bill Moyers and Colbert King noted, the neo-Confederates that truly are the core of extremist Tea Party certainly fit that bill as societal sociopaths. As Sara Robinson pointed out earlier this year, while the Confederacy technically lost the American Civil War, the culture of the arrogant, belligerent, anti-Democratic old South has never truly fit in with the culture of America at large. Now that they see whatever sliver of their world they thought still existed slipping away, many of those right-wing extremists are willing to do anything, and fight any battle, in order to keep their delusion alive.

The Civil War metaphors aren't just bouncing around in academia and the media. Indeed, as one Republican member of the House revealed to Byron York recently, the more sane members of the House GOP leadership are looking at the shutdown and debt ceiling fight like a Civil War battle they wandered into by accident.

The fact is, the GOP leadership in Congress didn't wander into this fight accidentally. Republicans - whether they're Tea Party extremists or not - planned for this disaster. Many of them even gleefully campaigned on the idea of shutting the government down in 2010.

Now, those same weak GOP leaders who supported sociopathic extremists like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are now allowing them to wildly swing around the economic weapons of both the shutdown and debt limit. The combination of both could potentially deliver a fatal blow to the American economy, and the world's economy in the process, setting the entire world back 200 years, economically, overnight.

If that's not a modern horror story to curl your toes, we're not sure what might do it.

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