Monday, October 19, 2015

There's A History Of Extremists Who Can't Get Their Way Trying To Destroy The U.S. Government


Yesterday on Meet The Press Texas neo-fascist Ted Cruz adamantly refused to acknowledge to Chuck Todd that Ayn Rand devotee Paul Ryan is a "true conservative." Cruz drew a contrast by pointing out that Hate Talk Radio host Mark Levin, who is anti-Ryan, is a true conservative. "I like Paul Ryan," said Cruz. "He’s a friend of mine." Imagine if he didn't like him and didn't want to pose as a Ryan "friend!" One guy who really has been a friend of Cruz's is Trump-- an odd couple if there ever was one (although Cruz and unlikely odd couples...). Also on Meet the Press yesterday, Cruz mentioned that "Others have gone out of their way to smack [Trump]; I haven’t. I think Donald's campaign has been immensely beneficial for our campaign. … And the reason is he's framed the central issue of this Republican primary as who will stand up to Washington? Well, the natural follow-up, if that's the question, is who actually has stood up to Washington? Who has stood up to both Democrats and to leaders in their own party. I think my record is markedly different in terms of actually standing up and taking on the Washington cartel and I think that's why we're seeing particularly… as voters get more and more educated, study the candidates, listen to the candidates in person, I think that's why we're seeing the grass roots momentum… we're seeing… is conservatives… coalescing behind our campaign." Ultimately Trump will find a reason to as well. Cruz will be the GOP's disastrous nominee next year, probably with congenital liar Carly Fiorina in tow.

This as the American people, even those not yet engaged with the spectacle of a presidential election over a year away, are noticing that the Republican majority in Congress is congenitally incapable of governing and that they are, in effect, a natural opposition party-- and a mess.
Consider the political spectacle on Capitol Hill, in which Speaker John Boehner, hardly a Rockefeller Republican, could no longer deal with his caucus and, with little more than a chorus of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” announced his early retirement. Members of the caucus stepped forward to admit that the hearings on Benghazi were aimed less at uncovering the truth than at burying Hillary Clinton. An ambitious Party loyalist, Paul Ryan, is reluctant to run for Boehner’s chair because the House Republicans are the new Wild Bunch and, as a friend of Ryan’s put it to Politico, “he’s not a fucking moron.” [Actually, he kind of is... but that's a different and well-covered story.]

Consider, too, the G.O.P. candidates for the White House. Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the only Republicans polling in double digits, daily clear their throats with that ritual preface of modern self-satisfaction-- “I am not politically correct”-- and then unleash statements, positions, and postures so willfully detached from fact that they embarrass the political culture that harbors them. Trump is willing to say anything-- anything racist, anything false, anything “funny”-- to terrify voters, or rile them, or amuse them, depending on the moment. The worst of his demagogic arousals are reminiscent of Lindbergh’s speeches at America First rallies and his fear, as he wrote in Reader’s Digest, of a “pressing sea of Yellow, Black and Brown.” Carson, who seems as historically confused as he is surgically skilled, has said that Obamacare is worse than 9/11, “because 9/11 is an isolated incident.” What’s more, the two men’s rivals either fall into line or lack the persuasive powers and the courage to marginalize candidates they know to be dangerous.
An ugly spectacle? You ain't seen nothing yet. Heather Cox Richardson warns about what's coming down the pike:
The Movement Conservatives now calling the shots in the Republican Party are forcing the nation toward a Constitutional crisis. A very small number of extremists are trying to bend the federal government to their will. They want to force the president to abandon his own policies and adopt theirs. If he refuses to cave in to their demands to kill Planned Parenthood, they will refuse to fund the government. They will force it to shut down. The thirty or forty people in the secretive “House Freedom Caucus,” elected by voters only from their own deeply Republican districts, want to erase the constitutional role of the president. They want to impose their will on the American people.

They have deliberately set out to destroy the American constitutional system.

This is not the first time the America government has seen such an assault. The nation faced a similar crisis after the Civil War. Then, Americans saw the threat for what it was. That the revolutionaries were attempting a political coup was obvious. Only twenty years before the very same men had tried to dismember the United States government using cannons and rifles. The crisis of 1879 looks much the same as today’s, although the Republicans and Democrats have traded positions.

In 1879, Democrats took control of Congress for the first time since the 1850s. Voters had backed Democratic candidates primarily because of a deep recession that they blamed on the Republicans in power. A small cabal of former Confederates within the party, though, insisted they had a mandate to reverse the course the country had taken since they had seceded in 1861. They set out to return the South to white control once and for all. “The great blunder of our section was in abandoning our seats in Congress in 1861,” one Democratic representative told the New York Times. The better plan was to seize control of Congress and run the entire United States.

To that end, the 1879 revolutionaries had a simple plan. They would refuse to fund the government unless the Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes took the few remaining the U.S. Army troops out of the South (that the troops were removed in 1877 as part of a corrupt bargain is a myth). These men forced a weak Speaker of the House, the long-forgotten Pennsylvania Democrat Samuel J. Randall, to attach riders to a series of routine appropriations bills, one after the other. These riders ended military protection in the South for African American voting. They made holding federal troops at the polls punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment at hard labor for three months to five years; that is, an express ride into the Southern convict labor system that by then was brutalizing freedmen. Essentially, the riders reestablished the Democratic white supremacist policies Republicans had spent almost twenty years uprooting. Democrats planned to force Republican President Hayes to choose between caving to their demands or to leaving government obligations unpaid. They gambled that he would sign the bills to keep the government afloat.

But he didn’t... Hayes vetoed five appropriations bills with the riders.

The ex-Confederates had overplayed their hand. As the stalemate dragged on, popular opinion turned against the Democrats carrying water for the extremist former Confederates. After four months, the Confederate cabal backed down. But they had inflicted irreparable damage on their cause. Americans who believed in the country and the Constitution shunned the Democrats and rallied to the Republicans. In 1880, voters put James A. Garfield into the White House and Republicans back in charge of Congress. The extremists were cooked. Control of the Democratic Party moved away from the South to the northern cities, where reformers like Grover Cleveland, who would lead the party in 1884, accepted the Republicans’ southern policies and focused on urban issues instead.

The crisis of 1879 holds lessons for today, as an extremist cabal of Movement Conservatives searches for a House Speaker who will promise to make raising the debt ceiling contingent on defunding Planned Parenthood. Now, as in 1879, these extremists ran roughshod over a weak House Speaker, claiming a mandate to overturn the policies endorsed by the majority of Americans. Now, as in 1879, those extremists seek to bend a president of the opposite party to their will by holding government finances hostage until they get their way. Now, as in 1879, they threaten the structure of American democracy.

It is worth hoping that now, as in 1879, Americans will recognize this revolution for what it is, and that today, as they did then, voters will expel the extremists from power.
Tellingly, history professor Cox Richardson, author of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party entitled her piece yesterday Ted Cruz wants to be king: Make no mistake, the GOP extremists’ real goal is absolute control.

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At 11:25 PM, Blogger tamtam said...

Check out the Narratives of Empire novels by Gore Vidal. They tell a similar tale of the Republicans rise to power, their coups, and the piggery that defines them


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