Conformity that defends nothing


One need not be terribly old to remember a time when the presidency and both houses of Congress were controlled by the same party. The last time that happened, we had a budget surplus, we weren’t reeling form the massive debt of protracted wars and the economy was healthy.

While such a lopsided arrangement has obvious deficits, at least stuff got done. Contrast that with the present situation. “Stalemate” is too charitable. Take Texas nitwit and Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz for example. We weren’t surprised that he wasted valuable Senate time reading Dr. Seuss during his recent 21-hour “fool-a-buster.” We were surprised that he could countenance public recitation of such subversive hippie literature.

People like Cruz think that their stilted worldview gives them the moral footing to obstruct the daily operation of government. They think their bluster has ethical heft and political substance. They are mistaken.

The late author, Truman Capote, once famously critiqued another writer’s efforts with the line, “That’s not writing. That’s just typing.”

Cruz and his minion exist in the same kind of vacuum. That’s not reasoned debate. That’s just yammering. The American people are owed better. If he has a point and real evidence to support it, that should suffice. If all he has is the parliamentary equivalent of holding his breath until the rest of us relent, he ought to just be quiet.

Of course this entire sorry matter emanates from a fight that most mainstream Republicans have already conceded: the Affordable Health Care Act. Cruz is like that last Japanese solider marooned on an island and unaware that the war is over. Again, he needs to just let it go. Bringing the whole of government to a screeching halt to prove a lost point benefits no one.

He won’t let it go. He can’t help himself. Neither can so many ill-informed Americans who deride “Obamacare” as the death knell of health care. The incessant call from this faction is always the same, “socialism!”

Here’s a news flash: Many well-ensconced and popular public programs are nothing but pure, unvarnished socialism. Among the most common are public police agencies — once a privatized function. Fire departments — same thing, they used to be private. Public schools — nobody pays to attend. Then there’s the great big socialist elephant in the room — Medicare.

The fact is that these socialist institutions work pretty well. The only dysfunctional aspect of them is that their functions are too narrow. All Obamacare does is expand upon an already proven model. Nothing more. Civilized countries the world over provide health care for their citizens. Why is that notion so caustic for so many Republicans?

When either side of the aisle starts down the obstructionist highway, we all lose. Neither are we well served when we act like lemmings, each more eager than the next in leaping to our doom.

Folks on the extremities of the Republican party like to quote Barry Goldwater’s 1964 acceptance speech. One passage in particular, ”… extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

What they ought to quote came a few lines earlier, “This is a party, this Republican Party, a Party for free men, not for blind followers, and not for conformists.”

Like it or not, even blindly following radical obstructionists are still, at base, a bunch of conformists. Goldwater would not approve.