Andrew Sullivan writes:
How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections - think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted. But what has to be resisted is any idea that this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States.
But it should be recognized that this "attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States" -- with Republicans using blackmail to extort powers that the American people have given, in recent elections, to the other major political party-- is only the latest in what has virtually been a war against the constitutional order of the United States that has been waged from the right for more than a decade.
So how far back does this right-wing war against the American democracy go?
I don't believe the chronicle need go all the way back to Nixon's crimes in Watergate, which nonetheless struck a blow against the fundamental idea that we are a nation of laws and not of men.
Nor would I include the transgressions of Reagan and Co. in the Iran Contra scandal (compounded subsequently by the pardons issued by Bush the First giving a free pass to those in the Reagan administration who'd been convicted of law-breaking), even though these events demonstrated a frightening willingness --that may have been an early symptom of the power grabs to come-- to run roughshod over the law and the separation of powers.
Perhaps the best place to begin the chronicle of this war on "the governance and constitutional order of the United States" is with the relentless effort by the Republicans, in the age of Gingrich, from the beginning of the Clinton presidency, to find a way to bring that president down, launching one bogus investigation after another until at last they found evidence of marital infidelity, which they proceeded to inflate into a "high crime and misdemeanor" they could use to impeach the President of the United States.
Without doubt, however, the history of this war against the American democracy would focus hard on the presidency of George W. Bush. With enough impeachable offenses to fill a book --as several responsible observers demonstrated during that era with books like Elizabeth de la Vega's UNITED STATES v. GEORGE W. BUSH ET AL.-- the Republicans gave us with Bush the most lawless presidency in the history of the nation.
Now we are in the era of this anti-democratic party's scandalous conduct while in opposition, during the Obama presidency-- working to delegitimize the president (with birther lies), usurping power through an abuse of the filibuster, unprecedented outright obstructionism to cripple the government the people elected, a persistent disregard of public opinion and election results (except, of course, when those were supportive of the GOP agenda), suppression of voters' rights at the state level, etc.
The current government shutdown is the fruit of but the latest use of blackmail --wielding threats to hurt the country if their political opponents will not yield to their demands-- which is another of the practices of this anti-democratic outfit, that seems to care only about its own power, or perhaps even less rationally, to care only about filling our political arena with combat.