As the nation careens toward default on its national debt, and as Tea Party Republicans continue their reckless dismissal of those consequences, one wonders what happens to a political party that rejects rational argument and embraces a faith-based approach to its political foundation. When such faith fails, will the voters who embraced such tactics die on the sword or slowly turn toward the politics of reason?
We are not, of course, talking about religion. We’re talking about the irrational politics of Tea Party Republicans and their insistence that sweeping spending cuts for all aspects of government — except the military and defense spending — are good for the economy. We’re talking about their insistence that defaulting on the nation’s debt would not harm the economy. We’re talking about their insistence that health care reform is misguided, and that it is not government’s business to worry about the poor, the sick and the uninsured. We’re talking about a party that rejects the science of climate change and advocates for unlimited drilling. We’re talking about the Republicans’ insistence that the widening gap in income between the nation’s wealthiest few and the vast majority of Americans — whose incomes have stagnated and not kept pace since the Great Recession in 2007-08 (prompted by tax cuts, two wars and lax regulations on the banking sector) — is OK, and should not be addressed by changes in policy. Let the market work it out, they maintain, as if the market did not create the inequity in the first place.
We are talking the GOP indoctrinating followers with a mindset that their policies will prevail only if the faithful believe and press ahead with their doctrine — despite facts to the contrary and despite a reasoned approach to the issues.
It is clear by now that the party has lost control of its message and direction to a vocal minority. We still have hope, nonetheless, that the nation will avoid default and, at the worst, adopt a six-week delay.
But to recapture the party’s sanity, mainstream Republicans will have to document the damage being done by the government shutdown — the uncertainty created for farmers, as documented in last Thursday’s Addison Independent, is one example — and press their party’s leadership to return to leadership by reason, not dogma.
Angelo S. Lynn