Are you insane, Crazy Horse? You're proud of all this, you say? But the Germans think we're crazy and the Saudi's are laughing at us? And people are going without work and the economy is crashing? Surely, sir, the shutdown has driven you MAD!
No. And let me explain why.
What you all see - standing close to the flame of events - as a disaster and a great failure, I, as a historian, see as the beginning of the final battle in the great American Civil War that began in June of 1776 when Thomas Jefferson attempted to condemn slavery in the Declaration of Indepedence. Jefferson, himself a slave owner, knew that no nation could proclaim itself the bastion of freedom so long as it held its fellows in bondage. Jefferson saw slavery as a yoke around our collective national necks - a prison we all shared. But he was shouted down by his fellow Southerners. Slavery was called a "necessary evil" that must persist. And thus Jefferson and his supporters compromised. Within a generation slavery, as it spread to the cotton fields of the South, would become known as a "positive good" by the likes of John C. Calhoun and his States Rights supporters.
From the very beginning American conservatives have always demanded the status quo - and in the case of our nation, that status quo is a power structure designed to support the supremacy of elite white males.
EVERY major political crisis in the nation's history has been about the same thing: maintaining that same status quo; that power structure.
The Nullification Crisis, the Civil War, Jim Crow, Universal Suffrage, end of the Gold Standard, the New Deal, the Great Society, on and on. In each great American political fight, regardless of party affiliation, the conservatives have demanded a continuance of a power structure that favors the VERY MEN whom Jefferson himself was forced to submit to in 1776.
But which side has won ALL of those battles? Every time it has been the liberals. The people who wanted more enfranchisement, not less. More freedom for all, not less. More rights for all, not less. Mor resources shared with the working class, not fewer. More votes, not less. More democracy, not less.
American conservatives have been on the wrong side of history from the very start and today that is no different. They may win a few skirmishes here and there, but they can't win the war - because their philosophy goes against the forward arrow of American history. We have steadily - in fits and stops - moved toward a bigger, inclusive more liberal society, by force of change and greater diversity. And the polls show that, NOW, today that's what people want. You cannot fight the future.
Look at your own lifetime. I was born in 1974. If you'd asked me, when I turned 19, if we'd have legalized gay marriage in a third of the states and a black president named Hussein the day I turned 39 I would have laughed in your face. If you'd asked me if a woman was leading a white man from New Jersey in the polling for POTUS I'd have laughed in your face. If you'd told me that a national magazine had published a picture of a female sailor kissing another woman on their cover I'd have have laughed in your face.
You've got to understand, that for the Tea Partiers all of that is a sign that their world is DYING. It's finally ending. At last. After all this time. The cult of white supremacy is fading. The demand for patriarchy is going away. The existence of institutional second class citizens is stopping.
And WE - this generation - is alive to see it. Something Abraham Lincoln or Susan B. Anthony could never even imagine. Or Jefferson, himself, for that matter.
The fight in Washington over the budget is MORE than just that - it's the great battle over governance for OUR era. The conservatives and their enablers of WASP supremacy are engaged in this fight for only one reason: power. They are trying to remain relevant at a time when their ideology is more out of step with the mainstream than ever before. Remember, less than a century ago 3 million people were in the KKK, only 50 years ago African Americans had to sit in the back of the bus. Now those things are looked on by the vast majority with sickening disdain.
If Boehner let go of the Hastert Rule and allowed votes on all legislation, the GOP would cease to exist tomorrow. There are enough moderatre Republicans to join with the Dems over pretty much any issue and movement conservatism would be dead - regardless of how many seats they hold. And never forget, they only hold those seats because of Gerrymandering. It was our party that won the actual votes.
So, you are DAMN RIGHT I'm proud of America today.
Because what you see as disfunction I see as the latest in a long chain of evolutionary steps by which this country has attained GREATER levels of freedom and justice for its citizens. It's our duty, as Democrats - as liberals - to fight for that, in the same way our parents protested Viet Nam and rallied for Civil Rights, in the same way that our grandparents fought fascists in Europe and fascists at home, and in the same way their grandparents gave their lives to hold this union together.
That's what this is, folks, a fight for what's right. Except this times it's with words and dollars instead of bullets and lynchings. But I have no doubt, in the end, our side will win. As we have always won, because we represent the great promise of what this nation stands for and was founded to protect: liberty and justice for ALL, not just the few, the straight, the white, the Christan, and the powerful.