The Republicans' Frankenstein shutdown
This is an alarming sign that an extremist wing has completely taken over at least one side of the benches in the U.S. Congress. A minority within a minority party is now setting us on a course toward catastrophe.
For now, the shutdown has created a few annoyances, like national park closures, but surely the effects are rippling out into frozen paychecks, and if the U.S. defaults, then all bets are off.
Even the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, warned on the show Meet The Press, that a U.S. default would bring "massive disruption the world over."
This could be the beginning of a culmination of developments which have allowed the Republican party to be dominated by the extreme right wing. It is the right wing that sought to keep the U.S. from progressing into the 21st century by starting a storm over a simple health care reform that barely comes close to anything being practiced already in Sweden or Canada.
In his Oct. 8 speech addressing the ongoing shutdown, President Barack Obama made the interesting statement that House Speaker John Boehner should not be pressured by members within his own party. This was an interesting observation because it means that while Boehner might be your typical Washington bureaucrat, the driving force behind the shutdown are the extremists which can range from the Tea Party hyenas to radicals like Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the leaders of the shutdown movement.
The extremists, which also include luminaries of irrationality like Michele Bachmann, fear any sort of functioning social programs in this country that would provide less expensive healthcare or education.
They follow the free market, predatory capitalist philosophies of writers like Ayn Rand and economists like Milton Friedman, which glorify total privatization of society's basic needs such as healthcare and education.
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate during the 2012 elections, was a major Rand devotee who would hand out free copies of her novels to his congressional office interns.
This is why in the latest round of talks to end the shutdown, Republicans demanded that any new deal also include budget cuts for Medicare and Medicaid
— not surprising from a party whose rising stars read Rand titles like "The Virtue of Selfishness."
Now consider that a recent Wall Street Journal poll revealed dipping numbers for the GOP, including Cruz. Yet at the notoriously right-wing Values Voter Summit, he won the annual straw poll with 42 percent. This straw poll is usually seen as an indicator of who will lead the contenders list for the Republican presidential nomination come 2016. The WSJ poll also showed that 28 percent of all Americans view Cruz negatively, a poll he dismissed as "not reflective of where this country is," a typical, irrational response.
But irrationality is not alien to the modern Republican party which is also dominated by religious extremists with visions bordering on theocracy. Only at the Values Voter Summit would a political movement invite a speaker like author Joel Rosenberg, a religious fanatic who believes Israel and Iran are destined to clash in an End Times war that will usher in the return of Christ. This must be pointed out because it explains some of the kamikaze attitudes behind the shutdown.
The shutdown signals a frightening new page in American politics. These are quite literally banana republic tactics that are being employed, right here in America.
In 2003 the oil sector in Venezuela was completely dominated by the country's right-wing oligarchy, the self-entitled aristocracy. Fearing the radical reforms of Hugo Chavez, the bosses who owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., the nation's key oil producer, carried out a massive strike to cripple the Venezuelan economy and provoke mass chaos or better yet, a coup. The strike was broken when all of the old PDVSA staff members were fired and replaced with a new workforce.
Obviously the U.S. is not Venezuela, and Obama is not a revolutionary firebrand like the late Chavez, but he must stay firm and not compromise with a political virus that has infected the Republican Party, and is willing to destroy the country as long as it means halting anything perceived as too liberal or even worse, socialist.
Obama should learn from the battles fought during the Depression when Franklin D. Roosevelt faced radical opposition to the implementation of the New Deal. His immortal motto was, "Only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."
It rings even more true today because the great weapon the Republican Frankenstein's monster is wielding is fear. Fear of adjusting our system just a little, and fear of joining the rest of the industrialized, civilized world is what drives the radical wing of the GOP's campaign.
"Obamacare" is not the most ideal reform we would want as the dominant hegemonic power in the world. It falls short of providing any sort of real healthcare coverage, as seen in Germany or even tiny, red Cuba. Healthcare under the nation's new health insurance system remains deeply tied to private interests.
It is hard to tell what course Obama is now planning to take in order to stop the madness of the shutdown. Will he compromise? The president better think fast, because we may be witnessing the first flames of the bonfire of the republic.