The shutting down of the national government is not something that inspires confidence, especially when so many have dubbed it as “Foolish.“ But it is worse than that! Shutting down the federal government is not just a ploy, a protest or a bargaining chip. The Tea Party radical Republicans have, in essence, hi-jacked our national government, and advanced their stated goal to weaken, diminish and sabotage it.
Yet, in Article VI of the Constitution, it is a requirement that all office-holders in these United States “shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution…” Moreover, nowhere in the Constitution is there any provision for shutting down the central government; it is not a recognized function of the Congress, the Executive or the Judiciary. The act of shutdown is in itself a repudiation of the lawful orderliness of constitutional governance, and should be challenged in Court.
Notwithstanding, the primary question becomes: Is this faction of radical rightists actually planning to take over the government and use central government powers to diminish and weaken those same powers? The following thoughts occur to me and may serve to provide at least a partial answer.
1. This is not “politics as usual.” Anyone who thinks it is, has missed a very important change in attitude and actions. These radical Conservatives are not in office to find a meeting of the minds, or to negotiate, or to compromise. Those commentators and ordinary citizens who want this to happen, and who are always bemoaning the fact that these politicians are acting like children because they want their own way, are essentially missing the main point. For instance, on the Rachel Maddow Blog for Oct. 3rd Steve Benen said this, referring to a quote from a right-wing Tea Party Congressman: “Republicans are being driven by a mindless radicalism. There's no meaningful policy goal in mind; there's no substantive motivation; there isn't even a strategic end goal. There's just a primal instinct and a right-wing id causing a national crisis.”
Do not forget that many of these radical Tea Party members are from gerrymandered districts where their constituency not only agrees with them, but applauds their actions! They are there in office not to legislate by compromise but to seize power by any subterfuge and mechanism that serves their main mission: to diminish the role of the federal government and to devolve much of its power and most of its programs to the states and the private sector. For them, there is no compromise on this point.
2. This is not simply a matter of destroying the Affordable Care Act. That was their entry-point into an active weakening of the national government, by attacking the signature piece of legislation promulgated by the Obama administration. Had they been able to repeal that Act, or any significant part of it, they would have made significant inroads into using a precedent of repeal to go after every progressive and liberal piece of legislation that exists, thereby again weakening the power of the federal government and getting rid of any vestige of its ability to promote, in their view, programs and practices that support irresponsibility, a sense of entitlement, and illegitimate redistribution of wealth (“socialism“). Why else have they been actively stalking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, trying to make it seem as though those programs are failing, not thriving? Why do you think the radicals rejoiced when the Supreme Court declared a part of the Civil Rights Act as being out of touch with modern day? They knew they had begun to destroy another piece of legislation that had marked a grand success for the federal government.
3. This is not simply a matter of reducing the deficit or the national debt. Never has been. The reduction of the federal budget, its programs and departments, is of paramount interest only because it would lead down the road to a slimmer government, a weaker government, and a diminished Executive. All of these are necessary if their mission is to be accomplished. So don’t listen to those commentators who think that budget reduction is what’s important to these radical right-wingers. They miss the point. All of the budget deals and ploys and bargains are aimed at one thing: to weaken and diminish the ability of the federal government to adequately fund central government programs. The budget battle is secondary to the sabotage of the central government’s ability to function.
4. This is not about a “foolish” move to shut down the federal government. This is about the right-wing strategy to bring the citizenry around to the attitude that maybe we can get along with a smaller, weaker, slimmer central government. Those commentators (and there were a lot of them) who argued that the Tea Party politicians would not shut down the government (or earlier, would not allow sequestration to occur) again missed the whole point. These two things are the biggest gifts that unsuspecting Democrats have given to the radical Republicans. The Right-wingers could not be happier. Every day they are pointing out that it’s not that bad. Everyday they laugh at Progressive commentators who bring on one or two people affected by the shut-down or by sequestration. In stark contrast, the Tea Party politicians and their colleagues continue to point out that they are passing (piece-meal) legislation to keep funding going for certain essential services (military, air traffic controllers, social security checks, etc.).
Why are they doing this little dance? Because they know all it takes for them to achieve what they want is for a substantial plurality of the people to accept an austerity that is “not so bad,” but that does fund essential services. Once that is achieved, they will be half-way to their goal of closing off many federal programs and departments and offices with nary a whimper from the public. Yes, in essence, I am saying that the radical Republicans want sequestration and government shut-down. To them, they are heaven-sent gifts that propel them toward their primary goal: reducing or defunding most of the programs and services provided by the federal government, except those that THEY define as essential.
5. It is not about certain state governors and legislatures simply being against Obamacare because they refused to set up market exchanges in their states, or to expand Medicaid. By now, you should understand that this is another goose-step toward their primary goal. These right-wing states are not simply refusing to accept a program of the federal government. No, they are denying the authority of the federal government to dictate to their states and to set mandates in which they had no part. This is one more mechanism by which to set up the states as sovereign in many areas and to give them the power to set their own mandates, programs or services for themselves in their own way. They are essentially killing two birds with one stone: the supremacy and primacy of federal law, and the restrictions the federal government puts on states through federal grants, program regulations and special services. They are preparing the ground for devolvement of Medicaid to the states; for opening of pipelines through their states; for scaled-down programs like public education. They want a confederacy, not a republic, and they are laying the groundwork now.
So why have a federal government at all? Well, even the right-wingers accept the fact that certain essential services must be carried out by a Central Government: the military and defense of our country first of all. After all, where would all those private contractors and corporations be if we had no wars for them to exploit? And we will probably still need some emergency services to help out wide areas hit by storms, fires, floods, etc. (and there is profit to be made in disaster zones, as well). And we do have to take care of our veterans (even radical Republicans know that) but maybe some of that can be done by the states or private groups. And, we have to fund Homeland Security to protect our shores. Oh gosh, I almost forgot: we need a federal government to protect and promulgate those values that we want everyone to embrace: no free contraception; no abortions, religion in all public functions and institutions; no affirmative action; no gay marriage.
6. This is about privatization. Why do the Tea Party radicals keep insisting on private accounts for social security, private vendors in military bases and outposts and where wars are taking place? Why are we seeing more and more private contractors running prisons and charter schools? It’s one more leg on this many-legged stool. Privatization also kills several birds with the proverbial stone: it reduces the responsibility and budgets of state governments. It provides projects for corporate friends and benefactors. It begins to replace government services with privately run services. It slims government more quickly. And yes, it gives wall street bankers the opportunity of a lifetime: to get their hands on all the Trust funds in the federal government!
So, in my view, this whole mess that is going on in Washington is not what we’ve been led to think it is. It is not a bunch of politicians acting like children. They are more accurately acting like a revolutionary cabal. They are not concerned with how anything they do on the surface looks to the general public; they have bigger goals they are working on; bigger fish to fry. They are a revolutionary cabal looking to over-turn a central government that has served this country well since George Washington’s first presidency. One usually thinks of Conservatives as people who don’t want change; who are more comfortable with the status quo as long as it serves them and their cronies.
Well, these radicals are less about the status quo than they are about the New Order. Watch Senator Ted Cruz. You think he failed in what he did? That is true only if you regard him as a typical conservative, but he is not. He is the epitome of the New Order. He did not blink when his filibuster had no effect on his colleagues; he even joined the unanimous motion to end debate He does not blanch when colleagues, even Republicans, beat up on him for his foolishness in leading the fight against Obamacare. Again, the point is missed.
Ted Cruz knows the end game of the radicals. That is his quest as well. Remember, Obamacare opposition is just the tip of the iceberg; what‘s underneath the waves is where Ted Cruz means to play out his mission. He will be the Leader of the Reich (oops, I mean the Right!). He will be the leader of the forces that bring all these ploys and strategies together. He will not compromise; he will not change; he will not negotiate; he will lead his troops in a government that is slimmed down, powerful enough to lift all kinds of sanctions, regulations, restrictions on big business and wall street, while at the same time, powerful enough and authoritarian enough to bully the middle class into compliance with radical Right values and a new form of government run mainly by privateers.
Wikipedia reminds us about the definition of a Cabal. “A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views or interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue. Cabals are sometimes secret societies composed of a few designing persons, and at other times are manifestations of emergent behavior in society or governance on the part of a community of persons who have well established public affiliation or kinship. The term also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. The use of this term usually carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influence.”
And here’s another opinion about what’s really happening from a group calling itself “Resist the Privatization of America.”
“…we are exploring and exposing how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been engaging in a economic coup d’état against America and beyond, using the radical right wing ideology that they embody and promote. This coup, 40-some years in the making, and assisted by unlimited funding, access to more than 20 think tanks, and the assistance of other groups oft referred to as ‘The Other ALEC’s’ – which we refer to as the ALEC/Koch/TeaParty Cabal – is crippling our country. This is the ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ and the largest source of money and corruption in our political system.
Key in their arsenal of weapons to establish this corporatocracy is privatization.
“The radical right tells us that privatization unleashes market forces to provide what have been government services – better and for less money. While the Cabal touts individual liberty, its real agenda is freedom for corporations to behave without reasonable and necessary government oversight. This has opened the door for ALEC and conservative ideologues like Charles and David Koch to become parasites in the running of our government. They have sold much of the population on a mistaken faith in the efficiency of the free market as compared to government, which has been paralyzed into ineffectiveness. In reality, privatization removes the checks on private and government power, eliminating accountability, transparency, and responsiveness, and profiting the 1% at the expense of the 99%. By merging the State with Corporate power, privatization enables corporations to circumvent constitutional accountability, while the vast majority of us actually lose freedom and choice under these policies.”
Well now, this is beginning to sound a lot like a conspiracy theory about a New World Order, the kind of thing that has been advanced by right wing extremists (and others on the Left, as well) of many stripes for many years. I want to say outright that I do not hold any fanciful ideas about the “New Order” that I mentioned briefly above. But, I do want to caution my readers that ignoring the existence or power of elements of such a right-wing extremist cabal is just the kind of denial that got Germany and Italy into deep trouble in the 1930s and 40s. An article yesterday in the New York Times evokes a similar cautionary tone -- “A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning”
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mike McIntire.
In an article on HuffingtonPost.com, for Oct. 3, 2013, Morton Guyton analyzes the Dominion Theology to which Ted Cruz (and of a portion of the Tea Party as well) has been exposed. Here are some excerpts from the article:
“On the eve of our government shutdown, I wanted to do some research into the theological roots of Senator Ted Cruz, the standard-bearer of the Tea Party Republicans behind the shutdown. I'm interested in understanding what account of Christianity creates the "no compromise" crusade that the Tea Party has become known for. It turns out that Ted's father, Rafael Cruz, is a pastor with Texas charismatic ministry Purifying Fire International who has been campaigning against Obamacare the last several months. He has a distinct theological vision for what America is supposed to look like: Christian dominionism. In the months building up to the present showdown, Senator Cruz has been giving speeches at Tea Party rallies and other religious right gatherings as part of a campaign to defund Obamacare.
“A more disturbing element of Cruz's speeches were his repeated calls for a "black robe regiment," a concept promoted by Christian revisionist historian David Barton who claims that clergy were the main backbone of the American Revolutionary War. Here's what Cruz had to say to the August 29th gathering of Heritage Action, the main lobbyist group behind shutting down the federal government:
‘It was pastors who were the backbone of the Revolution. Did you know where Paul Revere was going when he was saying the British are coming? He was going to the home of a pastor by the name of Jonas Clark... [who] was one of many that were called the black robe regiment. These were pastors that wore long black robes. Many of them had the continental army uniform under the black robe. They would preach in church on Sunday and then go out and fight with half their congregation for our independence. I want to encourage our pastors today not to hide behind their pulpits but take the spirit of the black robe regiment‘.”
“The theological ethos of Rafael Cruz's vision is in Christian dominionism; he talks about preaching a "message of dominion" that all Christians have received an "anointing as kings." I watched a sermon he preached on August 26, 2012 at the New Beginnings mega-church in Irving, Texas, led by Christian Zionist charismatic pastor Larry Huch. Huch incidentally had a very interesting prophecy to share when he introduced Cruz to preach:
‘We've been doing this series here that God laid on my heart: Getting to the top and staying there. A message for us as individuals, the kingdom of God, but also for America. It's not enough to get there. We need to stay there. I know that's why God got Rafael's son elected, Ted Cruz the next senator.
(And) here's the exciting thing... in a few weeks… will begin what we call the end-time transfer of wealth. It's said this way: that God is looking at the church and everyone in it and deciding in the next three and a half years who will be his bankers. And the ones that say here I am Lord, you can trust me, we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the messiah.”
Cruz shares that two types of people were anointed in the Old Testament, kings and priests:
“Priests were anointed primarily to minister the glory of God. They were anointed to pray for the people, to offer sacrifices, to care for the temple, to be God's representatives before the people... Kings were anointed to take dominion. Kings were anointed to go to war, win the war, and bring the spoils of war to priests so the work of the kingdom of God could be accomplished. The king needed the blessing of the priest in order to be successful in battle... The priest also needed for the king to be successful in battle because the priest needed the spoils of war in order to repair the temple, in order to carry out the ministry that God had entrusted him.”
“So to pull all this logic together, God anoints priests to work in the church directly and kings to go out into the marketplace to conquer, plunder, and bring back the spoils to the church. The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian "kings" who will accomplish the "end time transfer of wealth." Then "God's bankers" will usher in the "coming of the messiah." The government is being shut down so that God's bankers can bring Jesus back.
And here's the thing. When you get a lot of people together in a mega-church, you can do some pretty impressive things with your mission projects. You can feed thousands of people and host… job training programs and medical clinics. And I imagine that seeing your accomplishments could give you the hubris of thinking we don't need a government at all to make our society run; our church can be the new government‘.”(emphasis added)
Is this Ted Cruz’s motivation for what he is doing? Does he see himself as a warrior king intent on replacing our government with a church-type hierarchy? Is this the new Christian Taliban? I don’t know what Ted Cruz is thinking, but I do know that it is not a good idea to ignore warning signs of government over-throw when they begin to appear. The radicals of the Tea Party persuasion are not foolish children. They are seeking something beyond our typical political categories and understandings and norms. To try to interpret their actions and philosophy in the old political terms leads to a miscalculation of what they are after.
One more time: They are after the replacement of our national government with one of their own imagining. All of their actions are meant to lead to that end.
The following dictionary definitions should make us wary: “any act, writing, speech, etc., directed unlawfully against… the government or constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to incite others to hostility, ill will, or disaffection,” or “any attempt to overthrow the government…or well-being of a state to which one owes an allegiance.” Those definitions are applicable to words like sedition, disloyalty, and even treason.
I submit to you that these radical right-wingers are serious about obstruction, insurrection and even revolution, to the extent that other appropriate words come readily to my mind-- we must “recall,” “impeach” or “defeat” these potentially pernicious perpetrators of perfidy!