I’ve written before about my respect for Politico columnist Roger Simon. He’s an excellent writer, and thinker. And he writes the kind of columns that few do, or can. Think Mike Royko, Or Frank Rich.
This time, Simon takes on the Tea Party, and the larger – what to call it, malaise, drift, deadlock, lunacy? – to grip Washington, DC as the Tea Party stranglehold over the Republican party turns the GOP ever more to the right, and towards permanent confrontation.
Simon uses the story of the scorpion and frog, where both animals need to cross the river, and the scorpion suggests it catch a ride on the frog’s back. The frog, understandably, says “no way, you’re going to sting me halfway through and I’m going to drown.” The scorpion responds, reassuringly, “don’t be silly, if I sting you halfway through, then we both drown.”
So, won over by the incontrovertible scorpion logic, the frog carries his deadly adversary across the river, and midway through – what happens? – the scorpion stings the frog.
As they both start to drawn, the frog asks the scorpion, “why did you sting me?”
The scorpion replies, “I had no choice, it’s in my nature.”
There are scorpions among us. They sit in Congress, committed not to solving problems, but blocking solutions.
They would take the food out of the mouths of children. They would put the insurance companies back in charge of health care. They would shut the government down, refuse to pay the nation’s bills, destroy the trust that other countries place in us when they buy our bonds, they would do all this rather than give President Obama the slimmest of political victories.
Why? It is their nature.
I am not talking about the entire Republican Party. I am talking about a faction of far-right, tea party-driven congressmen who do not care who drowns.
They don’t have real alternate plans to help people. They weren’t, they believe, elected to help people. They were elected, they believe, to keep the other side from helping people.
The thing is, Newt Gingrich didn’t care who drowned either. Republicans all the way back to the early 1990s didn’t care who drowned. And the scorpions go all the way back to the advent of the modern religious right, and the early 1980s. The Tea Party is only the latest scorpion of indifference to visit the GOP.
Now, that doesn’t mean that things haven’t gotten particularly worse the last few years. I think they have. In addition to being indifferent – and I’d argue antagonistic – to the suffering of others, the fringe controlling the GOP has now gotten a bit crazy to boot.
The Republican party is a coalition built on hate, intolerance, indifference, and lies. It not only doesn’t exist to compromise, but as Simon notes, the GOP doesn’t exist to help people period – Simon says he’s talking about the Tea Party fringe, and not the entire GOP, but what’s the difference? The extremist tail is wagging the political dog, and it has been for thirty years.
What’s worse, as the GOP is not a party built on truth, or even reality – the age of the earth being 6,000 years, and climate change being a lie worthy of Hitler, come to mind – they see no cost to their lack of cooperation. If they default on the national debt, cut food stamps $40 billion, repeal Obamacare, none of it will make any difference because to them none of it is real.
We’re dealing with people who hate government, in all its forms.
And they don’t particularly like people either.
So not only do they not believe that the world is going to come crashing down if they default on the national debt or cut programs for seniors. But they also don’t particularly care if it does.