The Kamikaze Caucus

Posted on October 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By James Scott

Let’s face it; American politics has never been pretty. There have been threats, intimidation, even physical confrontations on the floors of our legislative bodies almost from the beginning.

But never before has a small group of lawmakers threatened the Republic with ruin if it didn’t get its way. We’re speaking here, of course, about the tiny Tea Party with its 30 or 40 minions who would shut down the government or trash the economy if they don’t get their way on the historically insignificant issue of health care reform. It’s enough to make Pyrrhus roll his eyes.

We’re not sure if he was the first to use the k-word, but conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News that the Republican plan was a kamikaze mission. And while kamikaze missions were effective in their ability to destroy, by design they didn’t work out too well for the pilots.

Here’s what Krauthammer said: “If we end up with a shutdown, it is going to be kamikaze, and the Republicans will end up sushi. Very thin slices. And everybody knows this, this is sort of a charade.”

This is blunt talk from a conservative, especially when it is aimed at fellow Republicans. But Krauthammer was not alone. Plain spoken Republicans like Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rep. Peter King of New York used no uncertain terms in describing the recklessness of their party colleagues who were ready to sink the ship if they didn’t get what they wanted.

The kamikaze pilots, as we all know, are members of, or sympathizers with, the amorphous group called the Tea Party, which has latched onto a scorched earth strategy to wield unearned influence on the entire Republican Party, the Congress and the nation.

Their latest plan would use the threat of a government shutdown, or the economic ruin that would follow a refusal to increase the federal debt ceiling, to get what they want. This time it’s the defunding of Obamacare, but do you think if they succeed that will be the end of the kamikaze approach to legislating?

No. Anything could be next. Any part of a agenda that includes the far right’s pet projects could well be forced upon America using this strategy. Gay marriage, abortion, gun control, you name it.

This is not how Democracy is supposed to work. Federal policy is supposed to be set by lawmakers sent to Washington by America’s majority and that majority is not with the Tea Party agenda.

It may be true that a majority of American’s oppose all or parts of the Obamacare law, but the way to gain its repeal is for all those opponents to elect members to Congress that will vote to do so. This is how the American legislative process was designed to work.

Tea Party activists are famous for invoking the Constitution and the founding fathers to support their agenda. But assembling a shrill minority to control the agenda in Congress with threats to the very survival of the Republic is hardly what America’s founders had in mind.

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