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Reich writes: "Congressional Republicans have gone directly from conservatism to fanaticism without any intervening period of sanity."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)


Republicans: From Conservatism to Fanaticism

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

22 September 13

 

ongressional Republicans have gone directly from conservatism to fanaticism without any intervening period of sanity.

First, John Boehner, bowing to Republican extremists, ushers a bill through the House that continues to fund the government after September 30 but doesn't fund the Affordable Care Act. Anyone with half a brain knows Senate Democrats and the President won't accept this - which means, if House Republicans stick to their guns, a government shut-down.

A shutdown would be crippling. Soldiers would get IOUs instead of paychecks. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed without pay. National parks would close. Millions of Americans would feel the effects.

And who will get blamed?

House Republicans think the public hates the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) so much they'll support their tactics. But the fact is, regardless of Americans' attitudes toward that Act - which, not incidentally, passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President, who was re-elected with over 50 percent of the vote, and constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court - Americans hate even more one party using the United States government as a pawn in their power games.

According to a recent CNN poll, 51 percent of Americans say they'd blame the Republicans for a shutdown; 33 percent would blame the President. They blamed Republicans for the last shutdown at the end of 1995 and start of 1996 - contributing to Republican losses of seven out of 11 gubernatorial races in 1996, 53 state legislative seats, 3 House seats, and the presidency.

So what are Senate Republicans doing about this impending train wreck for the country and the GOP?

Senator Ted Cruz is now trying to round up 40 Senate Republicans to vote against - not for, but against - the House bill when it comes to the Senate floor next week. Why? Because Cruz and company don't want the Senate to enact any funding bill at all. That's because once any bill is enacted, Senate Democrats can then amend it with only 51 votes - striking out the measure that de-funds Obamacare, and even possibly increasing funds in the continuing resolution to keep the government running.

So if Ted Cruz gets his way and the Senate doesn't vote out any funding bill at all, what happens? The government runs out of money September 30. That spells shutdown.

The only difference between the Cruz and Boehner scenarios is that under Boehner we get a government shutdown and the public blames the GOP. Under Cruz, we get a shutdown and the public blames the GOP even more, because Republicans wouldn't even allow a spending bill to come to the Senate floor.

In truth, the fanatics now calling the shots in the Republican Party don't really care what the public thinks because they're too busy worrying about even more extremist right-wing challengers in their next primary - courtesy of gerrymandering by Republican state legislators, and big-spending right-wing gonzo groups like the Club for Growth.

The Republican Party is no longer capable of governing the nation. It's now a fanatical group run out of right-wing states by a cadre of nihilists, Know-nothings, and a handful of billionaires.

But America needs two parties both capable of governing the nation. We cannot do with just one. The upcoming shutdowns and possible defaults are just symptoms of this deeper malady.


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+75 # Inspired Citizen 2013-09-22 09:43
"The Republican Party is no longer capable of governing the nation. It's now a fanatical group run out of right-wing states by a cadre of nihilists, Know-nothings, and a handful of billionaires."

...and misinformed by Glenn Beck. The extremists control the House, even though they lost the last election's popular vote by more than 1 million votes.
 
 
-13 # robcarter.vn 2013-09-22 20:10
But America needs two parties both capable of governing the nation. We cannot do with just one. The upcoming shutdowns and possible defaults are just symptoms of this deeper malady. Right and Rob Carter reminds Obama has sucked up the bums of rich Donors so far he has moved the Democrates way past right of center and will usurp the decayed Grand Old Party (or is it the Godly Outdated Party) whatever this is the Socialist & Leftists chance to move OWS to become the left wing Party for a new USA with 60% poverty all destined for that new Socialist left party following voters.
 
 
-4 # Salus Populi 2013-09-23 10:31
I agree regarding Obama and the Dim-ocRats (various individuals, _e.g._ Barbara Lee, excepted), but why in the hell do we need to continue on with the system that Gore Vidal once described as "an ungainly bird with two right wings"? The Constitution never anticipated the Party System, and in practice, it has served entirely to uphold the interests of the elites [no doubt the intention, since it was designed by them] by giving the illusion of "choice" between two servants of the privileged.

If the Rethugs deservedly become extinct [which I doubt; the Koch brothers would never let that dread eventuality come to pass], let a hundred flowers bloom! Take over the Dems! Build up support for socialists, Greens, feminists! Decentralize, and let anarchist citizens' councils rule locally!

But please, for the people's sake. don't restore the Toxic Twins in another guise. History, containing the Whigs, the Know-Nothings, the Republicans after the Great Sellout, the Jacksonian Democrats, the co-optation of William Jennings Bryan and the Populists, the sabotage of the campaigns of Henry Wallace and George McGovern, the Trilateralists' boytoy Jimmy Carter ... *Everything* militates against going along with the preferences of the ruling class.
 
 
+4 # bmiluski 2013-09-23 10:19
And unfortunatelly they control the media.
 
 
+64 # tedrey 2013-09-22 10:10
How soon will the public realize that we can still have a viable two-party system -- one Democratic and one Progressive?
 
 
+28 # Skeptical1247 2013-09-22 13:46
Hopefully it won't be long before they realize it. Preferably before the 2014 mid-terms.

I seldom have occasion to disagree with Robert Reich but, like you, I noticed that this quote caught my attention "But America needs two parties both capable of governing the nation. We cannot do with just one." I don't think he thought this one through, before writing it. The Dems are already a party divided, with the corporately corrupted incumbents doing an admirable job of representing the right wing. With friends like these, who needs enemas?

It has become glaringly apparent that if every Republican politician were to be magically "disappeared" overnight that society would proceed nicely, perhaps way better than currently, without so much as a hiccup. Needless to say, should such a miracle descend upon the US, there would be no tears shed in my household, to the contrary, I might feel like shooting off fireworks in celebration of "Independence Day".
 
 
+63 # dloehr 2013-09-22 10:36
It's hard to read this -- and the story of Detroit's appointed manager shutting off power to Detroit because citizens didn't obey his order quickly enough -- without thinking of Germany in the early 1930's, as fascism crept in while most Germans, maybe all liberals, pooh-poohed the idea that such despotic schemes could ever rule their country.
 
 
+48 # theory≠opinion 2013-09-22 11:34
Some of us have been warning of this since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, especially after he fired PATCO. The real issue is that the interests behind this have purchased all the media and been able to control the narrative of our country. Chomsky was right.
 
 
+7 # Unicorn144 2013-09-22 20:10
True, too true....bad news for democracy and America.....des olation.....
 
 
+20 # bingers 2013-09-22 13:33
Not to mention the governor turning down 300 million from the federal government to cause the bankruptcy in the first place.
 
 
+30 # brux 2013-09-22 11:07
> Anyone with half a brain knows Senate Democrats and the President won't accept this - which means, if House Republicans stick to their guns, a government shut-down.

I think you've make your diagnosis, and are correct ... Republicans have less than half a brain ... and it's doubtful whether they are even using much of that.

But someone is supporting them and voting them into office ... the people's involvement in this is beyond mystifying ... can we really have a country that is so stupid, or as I have suspected for a while, the whole nature of our society is being projected on us by the media ... it's like that psychology experiment where they have several people in a room, one of them is the experimental subject. They ask everyone what the color of an object is, and everyone says the wrong color ... then they get around to asking the dupe, who is afraid to question or stand out ... so he too goes along with the lie.

There is something unexplainable in American politics ... whatever it is, it works for the bad guys and against the good guys.
 
 
+31 # Farafalla 2013-09-22 13:55
While visiting Italy in 2000, I asked a friend "What do you think is wrong with Americans?" He replied, "Americans are childish, violent, and fat". It stuck with me. That's who is supporting the GOP and voting them into office. Red states are marked by lower than average IQs, hi rates of obesity, fanatical gun owners, and haters who gotta hate.
 
 
+46 # theory≠opinion 2013-09-22 11:30
I think Mr. Reich is glossing over the real agenda here. Cruz et al don't care much about Obamacare beyond its symbolism of everything they hate about our current government. They want to go back to a time when the government was only responsive to a small group of millionaires and was a tool for the increase of their wealth and it was actually unconstitutiona l for the government to protect the interests of anyone else (cf. Lochner v. NY). In short, they want to repeal the 20th century and go back to the Gilded Age, so the government shutdown and collapse is not the threat but the goal. Who needs Al Qaeda when you have Ted Cruz, John Boehner, Rand Paul, et al?
 
 
+29 # bingers 2013-09-22 13:37
And anyone who knows history knows what a disaster the gilded age was for us, and what a disaster most Republican administrations have been. All the very corrupt giveaway to the obscenely rich disasters were at the hands of Republicans. It's hard to imagine being more corrupt than Grant, McKinley, Coolidge, Harding and Dumbya.
 
 
+13 # theory≠opinion 2013-09-22 11:31
I think Mr. Reich is glossing over the real agenda here. Cruz et al don't care much about Obamacare beyond its symbolism of everything they hate about our current government. They want to go back to a time when the government was only responsive to a small group of millionaires and was a tool for the increase of their wealth and it was actually unconstitutiona l for the government to protect the interests of anyone else (cf. Lochner v. NY). In short, they want to repeal the 20th century and go back to the Gilded Age, so the government shutdown and collapse is not the threat but the goal. Who needs Al Qaeda when you have Ted Cruz, John Boehner, Rand Paul, et al?
 
 
+26 # modernjacobin 2013-09-22 13:46
Quoting theory≠opinion:
In short, they want to repeal the 20th century and go back to the Gilded Age, so the government shutdown and collapse is not the threat but the goal.


This is why Gilded Age shows and movies like Downton Abbey and The Great Gatsby are hot.

Why hasn't there been a remake of The Grapes of Wrath? Or Dreiser's Sister Carrie? Wright's Native Son? Or Twain's and Warner's Gilded Age? (This would make a good series.)

Oh that's right, the 1-5% do not want to be bothered with social conscience. Nor does HO-wood. Much nicer to just watch films (Gatsby) with lots of show, spectacle and fancy clothes, sponsored by Brooks Brothers, Tiffany, etc.

They love Gilded Age excess, not the underbelly and real consequences.
 
 
+55 # wrknight 2013-09-22 11:48
I would say it a little differently - that the Republicans went from conservatism to fascism. Fascism is a special breed of fanaticism. The distinction being that fascism (according the the 1976 version of the New World Dictionary) embraces "a philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of beligerent nationalism".

In my mind that perfectly describes the Republican mantra.
 
 
+1 # dbrize 2013-09-22 13:58
How utterly off base. Let's agree that what you say is true of Republican leadership. It is just as true of the Democratic leadership.

Look once more at your definition of fascism and then riddle yourself these questions: Do Obama, Reid or Pelosi oppose bailouts? "Too big to fail"? Big Banking interests? GE? NDAA? FISA? The Patriot Act? Controlling the MIA/CIA shadow government? Of course not. Not in your wildest dreams.

Friend, the joke is on those who think electing Democrats will change anything. They are merely slicker about it and more adept at talking the talk.

Reich is wrong. We don't need two parties, we need three, better yet, four or five. The two party monopoly over ballot access and money must end. It is what has brought us to this sorry state of affairs.
 
 
+19 # humanmancalvin 2013-09-22 11:51
I recently recorded a film I viewed some years ago & will watch sometime this week. Dustin Hoffman starring in a political drama: "Wag The Dog."
If I remember the basic plot correctly: There is heat on the sitting president over who knows what but the president & his savvy staff wish to turn the flames down. So, the presidential staff invents, totally concocts from out of nowhere, a small nation somewhere in the world. This imaginary nation starts a war ala "The Golf Of Tonkin" or WMD's in Iraq & the USA goes to war thus getting the now war president less heat.
I remember watching it with some humor in 1997, 15 years ago. Watching in my current frame of mind & reference, I doubt if I will see the humor as this type of total BS politics has been fine tuned by today's GOP. The Teapublicans lie outright with absolutely no shame. The lies over the Affordable Care Act, the death panels, bankrupting small business and the rest are all lies conceived out of midair. The lies told bu candidate Romney recently were wide & deep & were retold so many times that maybe even Romney & staff began to believe them themselves.
I don't think I can name one single former Republican president that could make it through the primaries today, except maybe W. but he was a case of his own, controlled with strings by Darth Cheney. Further, I
don't think any of the good, decent, solid Republican pols of old would even want to be part of today's GOP circus.
Keep wagging that tail righties.
 
 
+26 # MindDoc 2013-09-22 12:13
Clever repurposing of the Oscar Wilde axiom, which I've been recalling recently :

Quote:

America is the first country to have gone from barbarism to decadence without the usual intervening period of civilization.
- Oscar Wilde
Civilization entails universal healthcare access as a right, not a game of skimming of profit and squeezing of the needy by 3rd party insurance companies who "stand between the doctor and patient". Amazing - shocking - how some prefer to self-destruct government rather than seeing it do anything to promote a civilized, compassionate society with representation of We the People's collective needs. "In order to create a more perfect union" we need to see a Congress serving us rather than their '$pecial interests' - the ones who feed them, not us.

Civilization? Sanity? It's just so distant a memory with regard to American politics. And who can remember or see truth trees within the forest of 'news spin' and messaging all around us, bought and paid for and repeated ad nauseum by the corporate-dolla r "people". Imagine if the media actually were interested in presenting journalism and factual reportage. Imagine if Congress worked!

Seems like 'sanity' and 'civilization' are both elastic in meaning these days, from the goings-on in the government which is supposedly by, of, and for *us*.

"When will we ever learn?" (Those who can) And what can we do, must we do? Doing nothing has already been tried. Self-injury doesn't help.
 
 
+18 # modernjacobin 2013-09-22 13:38
Oscar Wilde would have a lot to say about our righties--

"To the thinker, the most tragic fact in the whole of the French Revolution is not that Marie Antoinette was killed for being a queen, but that the starved peasant of the Vendee voluntarily went out to die for the hideous cause of feudalism."

Like Baggers voting Repug despite NOT being 1%.

"Indeed, so completely has man’s personality been absorbed by his possessions that the English law has always treated offences against a man’s property with far more severity than offences against his person...With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things"

Tell that to the wealth-obsessed righties and neolibs, desiring more, more, more--but NONE for the poor.

"To ask whether Individualism is practical is like asking whether Evolution is practical. Evolution is the law of life, and there is no evolution except towards Individualism."

Righties can't even accept evolution!

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live...Selfishn ess always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type."

Like Repugs telling people they must be white, straight, and Xtian.

Come to think of it, our righties are just like the "sodomite"-hati ng cons of Wilde's day. Dumb then, dumb now. Some things never change!
 
 
+16 # Dale 2013-09-22 13:02
Human evolution took a wrong turn.
The Neanderthals are back!
They call themselves Republicans,
But they are Zombies,
Risen from the grave of history
Now chasing Homo Sapiens
With their big sticks
Clubbing every social advance of human kind,
Torturing and killing non-white peoples in distant lands
Jailing and deporting those considered aliens in Zombie heartland.

The Zombies, bankrolled by their friends in corporate board rooms,
For decades machinated
To remove the Nation´s heart
And replace it with a Made-in-China machine.
The bankers succeeded in reversing the American Dream,
Immiserating the masses.

Big Money continues to inspire economic suicide
While Fox News glorifies the perverse
And CNN presents Big Lies as balanced journalism,
Most all the media offering Pentagon programmed militarism
To torture reason, degrade the noble, imprison the valiant
And strain to devour what remains of civilization.

Big Money monopolizes the media
To frame acceptable thought,
To privatize public consciousness
With the end of substituting
Trivia for substance,
Thought hegemony for critical appraisal,
Stupidity for rationality.

The Zombies, their mental substance mummified,
Have no human sensibility

From Dale Johnson, troporg(a)racsa.co.cr
Neanderthal Zombies in AmeriKa Inc.
 
 
+17 # tswhiskers 2013-09-22 13:08
I heard this AM (Sun.) on Up w/Steve Kornacki that Reps. in Idaho, a very red state, may finally (?) be getting the message that Reps. in Congress may not care about the Rep. voters in Idaho. Is it really possible that common sense may be breaking thru the Fox News fog, even among Rep. voters?
 
 
+15 # bingers 2013-09-22 13:41
Quoting tswhiskers:
I heard this AM (Sun.) on Up w/Steve Kornacki that Reps. in Idaho, a very red state, may finally (?) be getting the message that Reps. in Congress may not care about the Rep. voters in Idaho. Is it really possible that common sense may be breaking thru the Fox News fog, even among Rep. voters?


For some, yes, but not for most. If sanity reigned every single American would be ardently in favor of us adopting the French health care system in toto.
 
 
+11 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-09-23 00:35
Most interesting, you mentioning the French health care system. A couple of years ago, I heard from an excellent source that this French system is considered by most folks 'across the pond' to be the very best health care system in the world today.

Certainly wish we the sheeple, across the globe and especially here in the U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction), could view an educating documentary re. exactly what this great French health care system is all about.
 
 
0 # bingers 2013-09-26 02:58
That's why I mentioned the French system, universally recognized as the best in the world.
 
 
+13 # Donna Fritz 2013-09-22 16:23
"Under Cruz, we get a shutdown and the public blames the GOP even more, because Republicans wouldn't even allow a spending bill to come to the Senate floor."

Good article. But Democrats need to stop using Republican framing. I'm referring to Robert's use of the Republican term "spending bill". It's a budget, Robert. You should know better.
 
 
+16 # GravityWave 2013-09-22 16:42
There are ways to avoid the possible murders of millions of people and even more dangerous outcomes but Republicans are not pitching in to help. They are determined to destroy the US and Obama's administration no matter what the price.

In my book this is treason. We should impeach everyone who voted for the repeal of Obamacare and who are traitorous to their, our Country and President.
 
 
+10 # Donna Fritz 2013-09-22 17:16
It's not that they're "determined to destroy the US" - they're determined to squeeze every last nickel out of the 99% and keep it for themselves and their corporate donors, and they don't give a damn who they hurt or kill in order to do that. And btw, they aren't all Republicans.
 
 
+8 # CARMEN IN MAINE 2013-09-22 17:26
I mostly agreed with wrknight, but there is another ideological term we ought to consider. It is ANARCHIST. I have heard them on both extremes. Among Republicans, "government is the problem" has become "we'll shut down the government" (and find some way to retain the bloated military?). On the left, I just heard someone question the ACLU for holding up the government in its successful advocacy of the Constitution. Aiming for a revolution? I've been reading a lot about the founders of this country and understand how hard it is to establish a government. A biography of Thomas Paine (Harvey J. Kaye) is inspiring reading. Let's hunker down, get money out of politics, and support representatives who do believe in government for the people.
 
 
+8 # modernjacobin 2013-09-22 17:57
There is a reason why Repug idiocy is beyond control: the media and universities are fanning their flames.

A few years ago, a U. of Chicago law school professor complained about the expected repeal of the Bush tax cuts.

He was really, really angry that he was going to be strapped. You see, he and his wife were STILL paying off student loans--AND bought a big million dollar, 4700 sq. ft fixer-upper house for his family of 2 adults and 2 children. Their kids were in private school. They had a nanny, housekeeper and gardener. They also bought 2 nice cars. HOW WERE THEY GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THIS WHEN THEY WERE STILL PAYING STUDENT LOANS?

As a Ayn Rand acolyte, he proceeded to complain that govt is always big and "Marxist." Never mind his university and his wife's hospital gets govt funding--even if private.

Funny, how Repugs like to accuse the poor of living irresponsibly and acting "entitled": when this is EXACTLY what this dork is doing by adding unnecessary debt when paying off loans. Mind you, he's a law professor specializing in fiance!

This story attracted a lot of attention. The WSJ actually printed a good article: this guy needs to economize! But 99% of the comments were beyond DUMB, blaming the Dems--not the jerk. The NYT article attracted somewhat better remarks.

(For more)

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/in-which-mr-deling-responds-to-someone-who-might-be-professor-todd-henderson.html
 
 
+8 # modernjacobin 2013-09-22 18:02
In case you're wondering about this professor's "scholarship," let's just say it's....interesting.

He's advocated for banks to offer bonuses in form of phantom bonds to bank regulators. This will get them motivated to do their work! (Conflict of interest, anyone?)

CEOs should be paid more in order to be deterred from theft and other misdemeanors. (Hey, I thought jail was perfectly fine!)

And yes, he won an award for brilliant young scholar from the neocon Federal Society.

For these gems of wisdom, you can attend the law school for $50,000 a year.

(None of this should be particularly surprising since Chicago is a Milton Friedman academy!)
 
 
0 # bingers 2013-09-26 03:01
The U of Chicago is kind of a weird case. It's concurrently one of the best schools in the world and one of the worst schools of economics.
 
 
+3 # JetpackAngel 2013-09-22 23:03
But if they shut down the parks, then who's going to keep people out of them if we're not paying any federal agents or members of the military? When the riots start, we won't have an army to call in, just the heavily militarized cops. The richest people in the country will be those who hoarded toilet paper and can grow their own food (or just the guys with enough guns to TAKE the TP and food).

...I think I need to read Hunger Games. And some wilderness survival guides.
 

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