I have never used 'jihadism' as a metaphor when treating contemporary American politics, nor do I regularly invoke the word 'terrorism' in such circumstances. However – and it pains me to say this – the Tea Party's scorched earth tactics leading up to the government shutdown have rendered them appropriate.
And I'm not the only one to feel this way. For the Tea Party, with its apocalyptic fantasies and altered, extremist view of conservative political ideologies, has led the contemporary GOP into a war against democratic rule, a war against the American economy, and a war against America itself.
I wish saying so was hyperbole. It's not.
Shielded from public opinion in safe, conservative districts, Tea Party House members have, quite literally, waged a campaign of political terror against both Democrats and pragmatic, centrist Republicans (such as they still exist). They have, far from holding the country hostage, embraced the tactic of damaging America's institutions and democratic principles in pursuit of their fanatical, political visions.
No, this is not a hostage taking which has occurred. It's the type of extreme jihadism that some who hate the United States use to justify their actions. It's the concept of leveraging destruction as a way to change outcomes.
The House's Tea Party radicals drove the GOP to leverage destruction as a way to change political outcomes, to change policy. It is that simple.
We are now on day 13 of the shutdown. When this began, House members leading the shutdown charge, in their distorted realities, thought this 'holy' war was not only going to work, but that it would be embraced by the entire populace as the only legitimate, effective way to rid our country of the Obamacare scourge.
Two days in, Michelle Bachmann said, "This is about the happiest I’ve seen [House] members in a long time because we’ve seen we’re starting to win this dialogue."
But as polls have shown, the public is wildly against Bachmann and those who have attempted to damage America's institutions to get their way.
Tea Partiers are surprised, though only because they don't understand their role in this mess: as political terrorists seeking to hurt our country.
They don't understand that, metaphorically, they are extreme jihadists. A fact the country as a whole is beginning to see clearly.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.
I removed the word 'holy' from the title upon further consideration. It originally read, "Holy War."