I thought I'd bring back the title because what Egan does to the Republicans who shut down the government to try to derail the ACA is more than just a beat down. His piece for the Opinionator blog at the New York Times today is definitely worth reading, and he doesn't pull any punches in his denunciation of the underlying motivation of these politicians. I mean, here's how he starts it:
Sarah Palin finally got her death panels — a direct blow from the Republican House. In shutting down the government, leaving 800,000 people without a paycheck and draining the economy of $300 million a day, the Party of Madness also took away last-chance cancer trials for children at the National Institutes of Health.Right between the eyes, I'd say.
This is going to be a challenge to keep within fair use guidelines, but it's longer than the average op-ed piece, so I'll try below the Great Orange Wreath.
I know this might be stating the obvious, but Egan applies blame to
a militant fringe of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government trying to nullify an established law by extortion.But it's HOW he characterizes them that said "diary me" when I read it:
In truth, they are the Know-Nothings from the 1850s who fought Irish Catholics and other castoffs from distant lands, vowing to keep them from becoming citizens. Their incarnation today is the Tea Party Republicans who call Latinos drug mules and would rather strangle the federal government than take up immigration reform.In four sentences. Brilliant! For those of you who were wondering why I kept saying that I thought the Republican party might not make it to 2020 in its current form a while back, there you go. In the 1854 elections, the off year between the elections that brought us Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, the major third party called itself the American Party, and everybody else called it the Know-Nothing Party. It had its origins in the secret anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic societies of the 1840s, and with increased Irish and German immigration (politically leftist Germans were fleeing here from the failed Revolution of 1848), these people organized as a political party to ban further immigration and institute literacy tests as a precondition for voting. The Know –Nothings weren’t just allied with the Whigs, many conservative Whigs joined the party because it seemed to provide a reconciliation of their distaste for chattel slavery with their horror of sectional discord.
They are the opponents of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965, labeling what are now the two most popular government programs as socialism that would destroy the country. They are the foes of science and modernism, denying evolution, climate change and, on election nights, math.
The party's insistence on hierarchy, especially differential status and rights, makes them look more like Federalists (the party of Washington, Hamilton and John Adams) than Whigs, but in the 1850s, those who wanted to restrict the franchise didn’t want to do so by wealth but by nativity. They thought that the most threatening newcomers were immigrant peasants, unskilled laborers, craft workers with the wrong political experience and acculturation. This meant Irish Catholics and German “radicals” (and Irish and German immigrants were extremely attracted to Jacksonian democracy’s appeal to the common man).
Why couldn’t the Whigs accommodate this? The Liberal wing of party, led by men like William Seward of New York, believed that the only way the Whigs could increase the size of their constituency would be by shedding the substance and appearance of Federalist elitism and bigotry.
Unlike the Whigs, their successor party, the Republican Party, is trying VERY HARD to accommodate these people. Rebranding, they call it, and here's Egan again:
Politically, the shutdown is terrible for a party trying to rebrand itself. When Bobby Jindal said Republicans have to “stop being the party of stupid,” he swallowed a teaspoon of common sense. That’s been washed away by a river of stupid.
And here's how he ends it:
“We’re right,” crowed Representative Steve King of Iowa.Evisceration! I know that the gerrymandering of districts in many states makes taking back the House in 2014 difficult, but I can't wait for the election anyway.
“We can always win,” seconded Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho.
Say it enough times, and it’ll be true, like Karl Rove’s gasping on election night that Obama had not yet won. But the die is cast. They wrecked the car, dug their own grave; no matter what you call it, history’s verdict came early.