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Howard Fineman on Hardball last evening....
What's going on here, as I see it, is kind of a slow motion secession. This is an ending of the social compact. This is 3 generations worth of agreement about Social Security, about Medicare, about the role of the federal government. The Tea Party people are saying: we want to secede from that society....and the way to do it is to draw the line on spending and taxes to starve the federal government so that it loses power, so that we aren't part of the social compact anymore. And that's the real argument that's going on.
The Congress as an institution is incapable of dealing with that kind of fundamental argument....given the entitlement age and the welfare state age...which is why you have these Super Committees and these Super Duper Committees. And the smaller and smaller ring of people attempting to decide something.
Fineman is not my favorite...by a long shot....but on occasion, like last night, he gets it right.
"slow motion secession"
That's an appropriate description for what we've been witnessing....especially, but not exclusively, since Barack Obama became president.
From those whose life's work is shilling for the interests of the rich few, like Grover Norquist and Dick Armey, we've been hearing this "starving the beast" rhetoric for over 25 years. What's new now in this "slow motion secession" is the Tea Party movement. Those who are veterans of shilling for the cause of the rich few, I must admit, have done a masterful job of exploiting the "poor loser" emotions of the Palinistas following the 2008 election.
Make no mistake...the Tea Party know-nothings who rallied around their distaste for our new black, Democratic president less than a month after he was inaugurated,....and are currently holding the national and international economies hostage.... again....are the same know-nothings who repeatedly claimed during the 2008 campaign that Obama was not an American citizen, but instead, a Manchurian candidate Muslim, communist-socialist whose only objective in trying to get elected was to destroy the United States of America. "Taking our country back" derives it's meaning from that contrived ethos.
From "pallin' around with terrorists" to "Obama hates white people, or white culture", to "let's see the birth certificate" to "he SAYS he's a Christian"....down through "death panels" and "Obama's pulling the plug on grandma"...to the inexplicable state celebrations of the Confederacy, the Arizona "papers please" law, 26 states suing to overturn a law passed with 60 Senate votes....down to the "2nd amendment remedies", the brazen effort to crush unions and the numerous calls by far-right wingers to rescind several constitutional amendments...all the way to Congressional Republicans voting to abolish Medicare.....all of it....validates the Fineman "slow motion secession" assertion.
Approximately 40% of our population is actually telling the rest of us that they've given up on the basic social contract which has bound us together as a United States at least since the days of Franklin Roosevelt.
Whether both sides are fighting over health care, or the rights of Muslim Americans, or unemployment insurance, or climate change, or election rights, or gay rights, or, as they are now....debt, deficits and taxes.....not one of those issues is really the authentic argument. The argument behind the argument, as it were....is that far right conservatives no longer accept the basic American social contract. Today's Tea Party Republicans are rewriting American history in their own image for a reason. They are in the midst of a "slow motion secession" from America's social contract, they are backing slowly away from the once-given principle that Americans are all in this thing together. Common good is no longer regarded as common, or good.
Which brings us back to the impending financial default of the United States of America. To far right wingers, purposely causing a default....which would trigger a massive rise in unemployment, foreclosures and misery....is an offensive measure better understood as a declaration of war against the United States. Creating a financial disaster is simply the means by which the secessionists think they can "take back their country."
If somehow Obama can avert an economic meltdown by giving the hostage takers everything they want....no revenues, no loophole closings, no elimination of subsidies to Big Corps,....only deep and crippling spending cuts which surely will turn our fragile economy southward....EVEN THAT will not be enough for those extremists who have already seceded in their minds from the American experiment. Because settling the debt ceiling crisis is not really the issue.
If a compromise is reached before next Tuesday to avert a crisis....we will only move on to the "new" crisis over the 2012 budget, due before October. After that will begin the 2012 election cycle, undoubtedly to disgustingly feature the faux-fiscal responsibility of craven secessionists who have already turned their backs on the American social contract. None of it will be pretty and everyone will be sick to death about it....but no one will be able to do anything about it.
The truth is....despite what Obama has said; that we are not blue states and red states, we are the United States....America is divided, and perhaps irreparably. The secession may be in slow motion, as Fineman suggested, but it's still a secession.