Local Views: Republican extremists have taken control of government

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Ted Kinnaman
Friday, October 25, 2013

Much of the commentary criticizing Congress for closing down the government and threatening default on the national debt has used the term “dysfunctional.” One cannot argue with this assessment except to say that the problem is much deeper and the cause more radical.

The Republican Party, taking its orders from its anarchist tea-party wing, originally demanded changes in the Affordable Care Act as its price for allowing the government to continue to operate. It is well known that the U.S. is the last industrialized country to provide its citizens with comprehensive health care. And if the Affordable Care Act is open to criticism, it is because it is not comprehensive enough. Thus the Republicans’ choosing this program as a reason for shutting down the government speaks volumes about their motivations.

 It is clear by now that the Right’s anger over the Affordable Care Act is really two-fold. They do not like programs that benefit people who are not rich. The increase in inequality in the last 30 years is proof of how successful they have been in pursuit of taking from the middle class and giving to the top. On occasion one of their members has let it slip out that one reason they don’t want the Affordable Care Act to take effect is that they are afraid that it will become as popular as other social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, all of which were authored by Democrats and opposed by conservatives.

 But there is another reason why Republicans are opposing this bill with such fervor, this reason even more disturbing. They recognize that this act is the greatest achievement of this administration and that President Obama’s place in history will be assured with his having gotten it through Congress and past the Supreme Court. They cannot accept this because Obama is not only a Democrat but a black Democrat. Remember that the tea party was founded just two weeks after Obama’s first inauguration.

The rhetoric and passion that the Right have mounted against Obama are unprecedented—even the anger against Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t reach these proportions. The Republican propaganda machine has engaged in more than distortions in these attacks. The party has resorted to outright lies, and to a disturbing extent some of these lies have found believers. Joseph Goebbels was one of the first to brag that if you tell a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it.

The leaderless Republican Party has allowed itself to be taken over by a tiny group whose hatred of government is so extreme that the more dysfunctional it becomes, the better these extremists like it. This brings to mind Germany in the 1920s. The Weimar Republic was attempting to establish a democracy but was defeated by the Nazis, the masters of the Big Lie.

Conditions here are not that bad, but the need for a return, not just to sanity, but to democracy, as well, requires that reason prevail over blind passion.

Ted Kinnaman of Janesville is vice chairman of elections for the Democratic Party of Rock County. Readers can contact him by email at kinnaman2@webt.net.

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