Last week, in a piece about how the Republicans are humiliating the Democrats, I said there's no real chance of the United States Congress failing to raise the debt ceiling. Failure would instantly trigger a worldwide economic calamity. Though the Republicans are behaving irresponsibly, don't worry, I said. The Democrats won't let that happen.
The point of last week's piece was that the Democrats, in standing by the filibuster, are giving the Republicans the means of humiliating them. Today, I want to focus on the GOP's role, specifically that voting against raising the debt ceiling is a hostile war-like act. We're so familiar with their war-like hostility, however, it seems like old news. It shouldn't be. The GOP's war-like hostility drives the news. If you do not understand that, you do not understand American politics.
Last night's unanimous vote by the Senate Republicans against raising the debt ceiling (and against funding the government) should be seen in the context of sabotage. The party playing chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States is the same party undermining the national recovery from the covid pandemic, which is the same party tolerating insurgents who nearly brought down the republic, which is the same party eroding the rule of law, which is the same party welcoming interference by Russia, which is … so on and so forth.
The Republicans have a reputation for being anti-government. But the current iteration of the Republican Party is much more than that. It is anti-American. I would normally provide evidence of such a claim, but the evidence to such a claim is all around us. Pointing out that the Republicans are anti-American is like pointing out the sky is blue.
Yet it must be pointed out. The Washington press corps has not figured out, or refuses to figure out, that the GOP does not represent Americans. It represents "real Americans" who do not live in the United States but in a wholly imagined "nation" inside the United States that was given to them by God to rule in His name. The GOP's first loyalty is to this confederacy of the mind and spirit, not to the United States. This is why political sabotage comes so easily.
And this is why Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, is not a hypocrite. He does not represent Americans. He represents "real Americans." When he was in charge, he voted to raise the debt ceiling. Now that he's not, he voted against it. The point isn't about what's good for the Republicans being good for the Democrats. If that were the case, equality would be central to McConnell's thinking. It is not. The point is who's in charge. When the Republicans are, up is up. When the Democrats are, up is down. There's nothing hypocritical about the pursuit of power stripped of all democratic morality.
This point about who's in charge can't be overstated. It's not that McConnell and the Republicans want the United States to default on its debt. That would hurt the very obscenely rich people who are their benefactors. But these very obscenely rich people are nevertheless supportive of the Republican Party's willingness to sabotage the government if sabotaging it helps maintain control of it. So it isn't just an amoral pursuit of power. It's parasitic, too. The confederates don't want to kill off the host nation. They just want to be in charge of it.
This is why I say "war-like." They don't want to go to war, not yet anyway, but they do want to intimidate, bully, harass and terrorize perceived enemies into doing what they want. They cannot get what they want through democratic means, because no majority can be found anywhere in the country that wants what the GOP confederates want. This was the lesson learned after the election of the first Black president. The GOP confederates have since forged a path that's outside the boundaries of democracy, outside the boundaries of the rule of law and outside the boundaries of the republic itself (again, think Russia). The politics of sabotage is the politics of the GOP.
I said the Washington press corps has not figured this out. Fact is, neither have many of the Democrats. Or they refuse to. Joe Manchin and other Democratic conservative cling to the idea of a Republican Party that's loyal to the United States and therefore desires bargaining with. Manchin, but not only Manchin, clings to the belief that the filibuster forces compromise. It does the reverse. As I said last week, the Senate rule is being used to humiliate the Democrats. But a larger question hangs over Joe Manchin and his peers: Why must we compromise with people whose politics push them toward sabotage? Bipartisanship between loyal Americans is difficult enough. Is it even desirable with GOP confederates who stand against America itself?