Reading the many, many comments, diaries and tweets about the sausage-making party that has been the debt ceiling deal I've been struck by the number of people out there in the progressive community who seem to be living in an alternate universe, devoid of the kinds of political realities which make our own world so complex. There are people claiming that, somehow, Obama and the Democrats let us down, that Obama is a stealth Republican, that we had the upper hand and, somehow, lost.
To those people I say: pay attention to reality.
We live in an unprecedented era in modern American political history. One of the two major political parties is so dedicated to undermining and defeating the sitting president that they are willing to, literally, destroy the country to get back into power. The GOP isn't dedicated to this in some sort of general, philosophical way or as a bullet point on a Powerpoint presentation. They are dedicated to this in a practical, every day way, just as am I dedicated to getting up tomorrow, brushing my teeth and going to work. It guides their every legislative action and their every political decision. Boehner and Co. would've gladly sat back and watched the country go into default if it meant discrediting Obama. They would gladly be the architects of a depression worse than the Great Depression if it meant they could blame the whole thing on Obama. Simply out, they are waging economic war on this president and this country, and they don't give a fuck what anyone thinks about it.
Additionally, the GOP is a completely bought and paid for subsidiary of corporate America and ALEC. The only other set of values they have, other than defeating Obama in 2012, is a determination to return the country the days of the Gilded Age, of maximum corporate profits, minimum taxes and no pesky workplace or food safety standards. This, too, is a practical and every day belief for them.
We are also decades into a coordinated, well-financed, and carefully planned program to undermine the ability of our national news organization to report on political realities. As many of you are already aware, the coverage of the debt ceiling fight has been abysmal, full of the mealy mouthed false equivalence which passes for reporting in these corporate-owned media days. Any real reporting would've zeroed in on the fact the Republicans raised the debt limit 19 times under Bush 43, would've pointed out the simple fact that the Bush tax cuts and two unfunded wars are responsible for most of the current debt. Instead we see editorials praising the wisdom of cutting spending and watch Paul Krugman wage a lonely battle for common sense in the midst of insanity.
I have friends who talk to me about making deals with moderate Republicans. I see diaries and comments about shaming the Republicans into action. I see suggestions to peel off this or that Republican, to somehow build a coalition which would defeat the crazies in the GOP. I see people wondering why Obama doesn't wave a magic wand and somehow make Boehner and Company change their minds.
Stop wasting your time. There is no shaming Boehner or Cantor. There is no compromising with them. There is no action you can take to appeal to any sense of country, community or decency. The modern GOP stands only for the rights of the richest and the most privileged. They stand for an America in which the top 1% owns all the wealth and the rest of are left to scrape by of whatever scraps are left. They stand for delegitimizing any election, legislation or jury verdict which works against their goals. The modern GOP does not believe in voting. They do not believe in not getting 100% of what they want. They have entirely abandoned participatory democracy and are rushing headlong into plutocracy.
And they are damn proud of this.
Given all this, any idea that the debt ceiling fight--a "fight" entirely engineered by the GOP in order to put Obama on the ropes--could've ended any other way is fantasy. No bill containing any new revenues would get more than a few GOP votes. No bill containing any real relief for the middle or working class would get by Boehner. No amount of Obama using the bully pulpit would changed a thing. No judicial nominations will get through, no stimulus spending will be authorized, no crumbling infrastructure will be repaired, no movement towards a non-petroleum based economy will happen. We are not fighting people who think they're in the same boat with the rest of us. We're fighting people who think their America, living in gated communities behind walls and protected by private security firms, is the real America. We're fighting people who think the rich are better than the rest of us because they're rich, and who aspire only to become so.
I am not blind to Obama's shortcomings, or to the group of Democratic Senators beholden to corporate America. I have a laundry list of things Obama has done, or not done, which offend me. At the top of the list is his acceptance of the national security state set up under Bush 43. Right below that is his choice of economic advisers, his appointment of Salazar as Interior Secretary and his refusal to appoint Elizabeth Warren in recess. I am also deeply offended by our conservative Democratic Senators, who use every chance they get to shaft the rest of us.
But those people are not our problem right now. The real issue is simple: you can not negotiate with sociopaths. All you can do is minimize the damage before you vote them out of office.
The day after the 2010 midterms, the Republicans were clear as to their goals. and this is how it's going to be until the 2012 elections. The New Deal, the Democrats, and the 95% of the country which isn't rich is going to be attacked again and again by a small, radical group of Republican elected officials who, hatched in the echo chamber of GOPAC, ALEC, AEI and Fox News, can not conceive of a world which does not match the one they've been indoctrinated to believe is true. Anyone who does not hew to their orthodoxy is to be ridiculed, defunded and hounded into silence. Any progressive who doesn't think the Republicans are, literally, out to get you isn't paying attention. The GOP wants you disenfranchised, delegitimized, starving and silent.
Prepare yourselves. This will happen again in September. This will happen again when the Bush tax cuts are to expire. This will happen again at every change the Republicans can find, no matter how small or routine.
Angry at Obama? Fine. Glowing with the white hot hatred of a thousand suns at what the GOP is doing to our country?
Then you're part of the problem.
Edit: Rec list? Wow. Thanks.