My hope is that this is a feverish nightmare and my fellow Kossacks can convince me that this is silly and will never happen.
Still, my mind tends to race to game plan theories and futuristic scenarios that take in known facts and try to see out how the other side is thinking in order to anticipate their actions and defend against them
My sense is that what is going on in DC - which should be the wake-up call that sends the Republicans into minority position for decades - is part of a bigger picture, a radical one that starts with getting (because he is the best choice at the moment to do this) Rick Perry elected president, but on a radical platform that plays off of the turmoil in Washington.
Here it is:
This all came together in my mind hearing that Perry had suggested that it may be time for the country to accept that states have the right to permit gay marriage, with the caveat that similar state by state laws on abortion might be the same thing in his ideal world. This immediately was seized on by Rick Santorum (who favors national banning of gay marriages and abortion). But I think it is the key to what Perry's campaign for the GOP nomination will be, then his race to win the White House.
And this is where the possibly very smart play comes - it works off of the current trumped-up phony debt limit crisis and the breakdown of government by saying, see, the Federal government is too big, they spend too much, we need to return power to the states and let people at a local level decide how to govern themselves.
He's going to claim that the current trauma (likely to get worse) can be best solved by reducing the power of Congress (in massive public disfavor, thanks to GOP obstructionism in the previous sitting and now their control of the House, but he won't admit that, rather blaming both parties and thus seeming less partisan). He's going to claim that states can take over many (most?) functions the Federal government does, and point to his supposed success in Texas for the last decade as proof.
He's going to present a solution, which on the surface may fool people into seeming benign (you want high taxes and government services, fine, just live in a state that provides it) and suggest that this, whatever the risks, is better to the broken down system we have now.
Of course the agenda, bringing together all the dreams of right-wingers going back decades, is meant to return the country to, in different ways, pre-Civil War times (which supposedly settled the issue of ultimate authority), Teddy Roosevelt and the progressive movement of the early 20th century, the New Deal, the Great Society and everything since. The goal is to roll back much if not most of what we take for granted.
It encompasses the goals of eliminating the Energy and Education departments, turning Medicaid funding and choices over to the states, eliminating any chance of national health insurance, while making it seem appealing to many voters frustrated with the federal government. It wouldn't stop there - it would likely mean an attempt to dismantle much of the federal government and its regulations.
What of course it would also mean is the inability of individual states to replicate what the federal government provides. Why? Several reasons -
1) Economy of scale - one set of national rules and financing means things operate less expensively. Governments do operate like businesses in some ways, and this is one of them.
2) Competition among states for low tax rates would be intense, much more than even now as revenue raising shifts to the states. It would be a race to the bottom, and the states with the least services would prevail.
3) Drying up of campaign funds for progressives. The cold, hard truth is the reason that on a national level Democrats remain competitive is that big donors - mostly business special interest relelated - contribute to them as a hedge to keep themselves relevant and influential. Decrease the power of federal government, then Democrats lose their access to much money. And then, those with the power to finance in a new world with battles fought previously nationally spread over 50 states, and the concurrent increase in expense initially will dominate the airwaves (particularly in a time where local media increasingly is incapable of covering local politics) and we end up with a duplication of results in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere this last cycle.
The road for Rick Perry to travel seems obvious - it ties together several themes and addresses the two big negatives he faces. He can distance himself from the Congressional Republicans by suggesting they are part of the problem that can only be solves by reducing Washington radically, and he can explain his recent flirtation with secessionists by saying that all he wants is for local control of government because what we have currently isn't working.
My guess is that this will be immensely appealing in the Republican primaries. Then in the general election, by seeming to offer something different, he suggests to social moderates that if they want to be in California or New York and do things their way, fine, you are welcome to it, no problem. In the face of economic stagnation and a failed Congress, the counter to this - revealing the real agenda and trying to explain what it would mean to the country - would I suspect be tough.
Oh, and for the moment, Perry will say this is the best way to save Social Security and Medicare, which he will claim will be under less threat if the federal government is otherwise curtailed.
He can say he'd encourage states to go their own ways on issues such as immigration (giving a wink to Arizona).
This is what my guess/fear will be what the 2012 Presidential and Congressional campaigns will be about. Perry is the logical leader for that campaign. And I have a real fear that it could success where a Mitt Romney or even Michelle Bachman led one can't.
It would hit Obama where he is vulnerable, apart from the economy - that he is the defender of the status quo, the failed system, and that only Perry represents the change the country is hungry for. And he can wrap it up in pretty packaging and make it sound fair and reasonable.
And if he succeeds, it will be the end of the US as we know it, with the Koch Brothers and their allies in charge of the dismantling of what we cherish.