Republicans need to take this big, bad dog to the vet
I’m going to say something that will blow your mind: Ted Cruz is not the problem.
Breathe, breathe… don’t bash your keyboard and run away shrieking. I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.
True, Cruz spearheaded the exasperating government shutdown in what Senator John McCain called “a fool’s errand” to defund Obamacare, and true, in the end, the Republicans gained nothing other than to participate in the destruction of their own party, but we should be less concerned with “what” happened than “why” it happened.
Cruz didn’t go rogue. He wasn’t tilting at windmills with Sancho Palin at his side. He’s not stupid, either. He’s a trial lawyer who argued cases before the Supreme Court before being elected senator in Texas. He understands the Rule of Law, yet flagrantly disregarded it as it pertains to Obamacare.
More curiosity: Cruz is apparently a mind-bending Jedi, because the non-Tea Party Republicans seemed mesmerized throughout the entire debacle, snapping out of their group hypnosis only after a budget agreement was reached (for now) at the 11th hour. Those who did comment and concede defeat seemed downright polite, and even timid.
Is Cruz so powerful that all others tremble in his presence? Do fellow Republicans fear offending The One who may be their next presidential candidate? (Reality check here, people: Chris Christie will wipe the floor with him.)
Why, why, why did all this happen?
Because it’s not about Cruz. It’s about the people who voted for him. Cruz wasn’t acting on his own (other than pure self-interest in getting reelected), he was representing the beliefs and interests of those who elected him. He has a damn cushy job and he wants to keep it. To be fair, can you blame him for that? Would you reelect a representative who did the opposite of what you elected him/her to do? Would you support him/her next time around? I think not. Agreed?
OK, so now bend your mind around this: Your desire that your representative actually represent you… the Tea Partiers have that same desire. Weird, right? Like talking to a KKK member and finding out that you both drink the same beer. It’s unsettling.
Let’s shake that subsequent oobie-joobie ick feeling off by considering some recent polls.
A Washington Post poll revealed that 74 percent of the public disapproves of how Congressional Republicans handled themselves in federal budget negotiations. The Republicans, as a whole, are taking a hit for the antics of a minority in their party. And they’ll continue to do so unless the rational faction of the Republican party stops cowering in front of the Tea Party constituency. It was never more clear than it is now: If the Republican party continues to pander to the Nut Wing, it’s finished.
However, while Republicans as a whole suffer in the polls, Ted Cruz’s popularity amongst Tea Party Republicans is soaring: it’s also at 74 percent. Yes, that’s right. Since taking Congress hostage for 16 days, Cruz has become a Tea Party rock star. And they’ll reelect him. Oh yes, they’ll reelect him.
So, we can stop asking “why” we had a shutdown. Ted Cruz isn’t why. The people who elected him are why. The bigger question is “when.” As in, when will it happen again? This is far from over. Cruz and the other Tea Party candidates were elected fair and square. In their districts, the Tea Party is the majority, and these regional majorities view the government as their enemy. They want to overtake it and bend it into something else. That’s far more alarming than Cruz wasting everyone’s time and patience reading Dr. Seuss books.
The budget and debt ceiling agreements reached last week are no more meaningful than hitting “pause” on the DVR. The show’s far from over. As Cruz left the final budget hearings, he declared, “This fight, this debate will continue until collectively the American people can make D.C. listen.”
Excuse me? Again with “The American People”? It’s starting to become comical.
The American People voted for Obamacare. The Tea Party isn’t interested in what The American People want. The Tea Party is not “The American People.” The majority of Americans don’t support Tea Party views. Polls done by Pew Research indicate that the Tea Party’s popularity is plummeting, across the board, even amongst Republicans. I would imagine particularly amongst Republicans, because the Tea Party is destroying their party. And yet, Tea Partiers are still winning elections, and propelling their representatives into Congress, with marching orders to be the collective monkey wrench in the government’s gears.
Following the government shutdown, with the blame falling squarely on Tea Party members and those Congressional Republicans who quake in fear of their constituency, the word “sedition” was tossed around. Is that too extreme? Maybe not. According to the Cornell University Law School website, the act of sedition includes to “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”
Obamacare is the law of the land. The Supreme Court validated that. Tea Party Republicans, by force, attempted to prevent, hinder and delay the execution of that law. Moreover, they have publicly vowed to continue to do so. The Tea Party thumbs its nose at the Rule of Law. Without the Rule of Law, we have no government. We have no United States. We have nothing. Which is exactly what they want.
So, don’t feel too relieved that Congress pushed “pause” on this American horror story. Nothing was solved. Only stalled. Tea Party Republicans learned nothing, other than how to take the government hostage and get away with it. They learned that there are no actual consequences for sedition. They’ll take advantage of these next couple months to regroup and attack again.