Political Culture of War
Republicans are trying a new strategy: Democrats must agree to our budget plans, or else we with withhold everyone’s pay.
There are arguments about the plan’s constitutionality, but that’s not the issue for me. The issue I think is more important is that the tactic is being used in an abusive manner—literally, for extortion. Just as they have used other tactics, like shutdowns and defaulting on the debt.
Democrats agreed to a pay stoppage a few years back, but that was supported by both parties, and was a fairness issue—if no government workers got paid during a shutdown, then members of Congress would be no different.
The current plan is different, in that it is being used to extort. Nothing new for Republicans, this has been so for almost 20 years since the government shutdown under the Clinton administration.
The idea of Congress is very simple: if an idea is good enough for half the members to approve, it gets passed. In order to make such deals happen, both houses must agree. Congress was always intended to be a place where compromises took place in the name of fairness and equity, in the best interests of the people and the nation.
Conservatives have taken a flamethrower to that concept. Screw the people. Screw the nation. Give us what we want, or else we’ll burn it all down.
Republicans, unhappy at losing any battle, have defied the system, defied the very concept of Democracy itself. They have made any law they dislike have to pass a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. In order to get their way, they have started holding hostage everything they can get their hands on, constitutionally or not. If there’s something important to the nation that they can destroy, they’ll hold a gun to its head unless they get what they want. And unlike a criminal hostage-taker, they don’t get arrested and removed from the equation; instead, they get to keep taking the same hostage time and time again, and then released back out to do it all over again.
It’s the same in the states, with votes. Can’t win an election? Then win state houses enough to gerrymander the hell out of those states. Too many Democrats voting? Then limit voting hours and voting resources at times and places they vote. Still losing? Then bring back Jim Crow, bigger and better than ever—pass laws that target Democratic voters under fraudulent pretexts and throw obstacles in their way. Still not winning? Hey, we can game the electoral system, changing how key states apportion their votes in the most extremely convoluted ways so that even if we lose the popular vote by a wide margin, we can still will more electoral votes. Make it so Democrats have to win by 10 million votes to eke out a victory electorally.
For Republicans, it is not about majority rule. It’s not about what the people want. And Democracy? Fuck Democracy.
It’s about what Republicans want, and how they can get it. Bend the rules, twist the rules, break the rules, whatever works for them. Even the pretexts are falling away as Republicans openly gloat about subverting the vote.
For Republicans, governing is war, and you win by whatever means necessary.