Our political Quote of the Day is from a blunt post by Andrew Sullivan (a favorite of many of us here at TMV) who says the House Republican engineered shutdown is not a shutdown but a “nullification” attempt. Some key quotes of this post, which must be read in full:
But there is something more here. How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections – think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted. But what has to be resisted is any idea that this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States.
When ideologies become as calcified, as cocooned and as extremist as those galvanizing the GOP, the American system of government cannot work. But I fear this nullification of the last two elections is a deliberate attempt to ensure that the American system of government as we have known it cannot work. It cannot, must not work, in the mindset of these radicals, because they simply do not accept the legitimacy of a President and Congress of the opposing party. The GOP does not regard the president as merely wrong – but as illegitimate. Not misguided – illegitimate. This is not about ending Obamacare as such (although that is a preliminary scalp); it is about nullifying this presidency, the way the GOP attempted to nullify the last Democratic presidency by impeachment.
Except this time, of course, we cannot deny that race too is an added factor to the fathomless sense of entitlement felt among the GOP far right.
Indeed, there are increasing suggestions by analysts that conservative House Republicans (supported in whatever they do by Fox News and many in the conservative new and old media) will quite happily cause the United States to default on its debt (and blame it on Obama and the Democrats). More Sullivan:
Even though the law is almost identical to that of their last presidential nominee’s in Massachusetts, the GOP is prepared to destroy both the American government and the global economy to stop it.
I regard this development as one of the more insidious and anti-constitutional acts of racist vandalism against the American republic in my adult lifetime. Those who keep talking as if there are two sides to this, when there are not, are as much a part of the vandalism as Ted Cruz. Obama has played punctiliously by the constitutional rules – two elections, one court case – while the GOP has decided that the rules are for dummies and suckers, and throws over the board game as soon as it looks as if it is going to lose by the rules as they have always applied.
The president must therefore hold absolutely firm. This time, there can be no compromise because the GOP isn’t offering any. They’re offering the kind of constitutional surrender that would effectively end any routine operation of the American government. If we cave to their madness, we may unravel our system of government, something one might have thought conservatives would have opposed. Except these people are not conservatives. They’re vandals.
This time, the elephant must go down. And if possible, it must be so wounded it does not get up for a long time to come.
Indeed, the current Republican Party’s most fervent members just don’t ignore and discount the center and moderates: they have contempt for them. This is just ONE of the many recent emails(deleted quite quickly) yours truly has gotten after writing Cagle Cartoon columns and The Week online articles on Ted Cruz along with TMV posts. This is copy and paste from the email and is run here because it’s missing some of the family-unfriendly language in some of the other ones:
“Guys…You got this all wrong. “We the People” don’t care for the moderates giving in to Obamacare; gun control, etc. They vote with that Muslim POS in the White House. Cruz has guts that Boehner and his gonadless cronies couldn’t find on their greatest day. Soon we’ll have the Civil War that is needed in this country.”:
My favorite was the one that said “your liberal Jewish mother should have taught you better.” (My 92 year-old mother who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s has always been apolitical and voted the way my father voted — and he usually voted Republican).
I agree with Sullivan: this is a moment of truth not for partisans but for those who believe our government should function the way it always has. And holding the country hostage in a shutdown or threatening to or causing the nation to default on its debt isn’t the way patriots of both parties for centuries used American democracy. But in our political culture people parrot what they hear their favorite talk show hosts say, or what their favorite blogger writes, and then adapt that viewpoint as their viewpoint. Our bar is being lowered.
Past generations didn’t allow our bar to be lowered.
Will this generation of leaders of good faith in both parties do the same?
Will this end up with the need to write a new new version of “Profiles in Courage”?
Or will it (continue to) suggest a need to write a twist on that book: “Profiles in Cowardice,” as a small group of hyperpartisans and ideologists bolstered by a multi-platform infomachine changes our traditional way of government?
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.