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Jane Ahlin, Published October 05 2013

Ahlin: Phony crisis of a party that hates government

Another phony crisis ginned up by tea partiers in our national legislature is doing real damage. Because tea partiers hate government in general and democracy in particular, they refuse to adjust to an electoral outcome that doesn’t suit them. Call it megalomania of the minority. As one of the faithful – Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind. – told the Washington Examiner about their commitment to the unnecessary government shutdown, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this, and I don’t know what that even is.”

But he’s hunkered down the rabbit hole with all the other tea party Mad Hatters waiting to find out.

Tea party national legislators would rather manufacture a crisis than deal with reality. Reality is that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law. Its legitimacy was challenged on a fast track to the Supreme Court where it was given a gold seal of approval. Then Obama ran for re-election, spending a whole lot of campaign time and energy defending and promoting Obamacare and won decisively.

Let’s tally that up. Legislative approval? Check. Judicial approval? Check. Executive approval? Check. By golly, all three branches of government and the American people weighed in, and the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

That’s not good enough for tea partiers. Their faction isn’t simply a minority; it is an apocalyptic minority. When it comes to ideologically pure policymaking, Armageddon is ever near. (What they want is what God wants, and in this case, God evidently wants coercion and suffering.) Their legislative contingent in the U.S. House of Representatives is holding a gun to their own speaker’s head – last week, to shut down the government, currently and soon, to default on U.S. debt – all because they abhor Obamacare.

Well, that and the fact they are sure if something really horrible happens, the American public will have a sudden change of heart and put them in charge. (You know, “gotta break eggs to make an omelet.”) That old reprobate Bill Clinton put it best when he said, “Can you remember a time in your lifetime when a major political party was just sitting around, begging for America to fail?”

The irony is that if Speaker John Boehner called a vote to end the shutdown, there are enough Republicans upset at the antics of their tea party colleagues to end it.

Tea party legislators are beyond embarrassment. The Capitol police officers in Thursday’s high-speed chase were on duty but not being paid because of the shutdown. Ditto for scientists doing hurricane modeling as Hurricane Karen poses a threat. One Republican congressman scolded a National Park ranger who wouldn’t let World War II veterans in to see the World War II Memorial the congressman had voted to shut down.

The pain and misery – for thousands upon thousands of government workers who aren’t drawing paychecks and thousands upon thousands of people who cannot access government programs or even vital information – serve no purpose whatsoever.

Never mind. Tea partiers remain tough. One of their energizing beliefs is that too many Americans have grown fat and happy on government gravy. (Lazy so-and-sos need a fiscal diet. Let ’em eat cake or drink tea or something.) Nobody really needs gold-bricking programs, such as Head Start and WIC (supplemental nutrition for women, infants and children living slightly above the poverty line.) No pain, no gain. Besides, their own paychecks continue to arrive like clockwork.

Hmm … that prompts a thought: What private enterprise issues their paychecks? Oh, wait, could it be true? Those anti-government zealots are on the dole.

Back in 2010, Karl Rove and other Republican strategists chortled over the opportunity to gerrymander enough districts to keep the House of Representatives perpetually in Republican hands. Wonder what they think today about the far- right monster they created.

Ahlin writes a Sunday column for The Forum.