A couple of days into the so-called government shutdown and already some Republicans are scratching their heads and wondering why they’re losing the messaging war. After all, they have the facts — it’s Obama and his stooge, Harry Reid, who really want the shutdown and are determined to keep it going as long as possible — and the emotions (cancer kids being turned away from the NIH) on their side. Why, just today I heard the real face of the Democratic Party, Chuck Schumer, pointedly blaming House Speaker John Boehner, and loving every minute of it.
Conservatives are kidding themselves if they think, as some do, that the Voice of the People — making itself heard in such actions as the World War II veterans’ liberation of their monument in Washington yesterday and today, or a nebulous notion of “citizen journalism” — will be enough to force the Democrats to the reality side of the ledger. The recent history of the Tea Party — victorious in 2010, neutered (in part by Lois Lerner and her IRS) in 2012 — shows that. A disorganized, multi-headed movement is not a movement at all, but a rabble, a Children’s Crusade, and one that will end up the way the Children’s Crusade did back in 1212.
What the conservative cause needs now is a leader.
I have no idea who that leader might be. Now that civil war has broken out in the ranks of the GOP, the momentum is with the insurgents, so any leader, whoever he or she may be, is likely to come from the ranks of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeff Sessions, et al. It is, on the other hand, highly unlikely that he will step forth from the spear carriers who currently surround Boehner and Eric Cantor, but who will melt away like the Praetorian Guard after the assassination of the Emperor once Boehner is deposed. The banshee screech of a frightened and wounded Leftist establishment speaks volumes about who and what they fear — and they fear the Tea Party.
This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.
What we’re seeing here is how three structural changes that have been building in American politics have now, together, reached a tipping point — creating a world in which a small minority in Congress can not only hold up their own party but the whole government. And this is the really scary part: The lawmakers doing this can do so with high confidence that they personally will not be politically punished, and may, in fact, be rewarded. When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.
No names, please, though — we’re the Tea Party. The marginalization of the Tea Party is the point of nearly everything I read on the left these days; they are the giant ogres out to devour democracy. I have very dear and old friends who are convinced Tea Party “terrorists” are undermining our political system, that Obamacare is “settled law” (the Left’s fondness for “settled” concepts is striking for the Party of Reality and Science, and binds them philosophically with Islam, for which everything was settled in the seventh century), and that zealots have seized control of the House.