Random Thoughts on a Pointless Act
So, the government shutdown/default crisis is over, for now. I don’t know about you, but I keep wondering what in the world just happened. In the midst of my stupor, I have these few thoughts about our little trip into absurdity.
- Most folks don’t really understand the Tea Party. When I hear my liberal friends talking about the Tea Party, I have to wonder who are they talking about. As much as I might disagree with them, I have learned they are far more complex than the cartoon descriptions given by those outside the movement. William Galston’s take on the movement is probably one of the best out there. He does a good job of explaining how these folks feel and why they do what they do.
- The Tea Party is the “ideas factory” for the GOP. If you want to see where the new ideas and policy innovation is taking place in the GOP, it’s happening among the Tea Party folks. Not all of them, mind you, some of them are nothing more than clowns (I’m looking at you, Ted Cruz). But as Ross Douthat has noted, you can look at Rand Paul’s criticism concerning civil liberties in the war on terror or Mike Lee’s tax reform to see the vanguard of conservative policy making is found among the same folks that can annoy us.
- The Tea Party is in need of adult supervision. I’ve commented on Facebook that the Tea Party acts like a really smart teenager. A smart teen with a bad aditude. The same pols who can come up with ideas the breaks the mold can then engage in childish and unrealistic endeavors…like what we just went through. Again, read Douthat .
- The Establishment needs to figure out how to deal with the Tea Party. In some ways, this who spectacle revealed how little power or will there is to engage the Tea Party. There has to be some way to channel their energy into far more constructive ways. But for that to happen, the old guard has to get involved.
- It’s the Tea Party or bust. For a brief time last weekend, I was tempted with the idea of booting the Tea Party folks from the GOP, who would then create a third party. It seems that David Frum has been thinking the same thing. Reality returned when you realize that without the Tea Party, the GOP would be a rump party, unable to win Presidential elections. Frum thinks a Tea Party-less GOP will move towards the center and all will be well. He seems to forget or at least has remembered mistakenly that when the conservatives in Canada split in the 1990s, the Liberals edged into power and stayed there for over a decade. The Tea Party folks are the ground troops of the GOP. They are what make the party function, not squishy moderates like me who aren’t as involved.
- Pull the damn trigger. If you are going to threaten the world economy, you had better damn well have a strategy. It looks stupid to threaten utter economic devastation for unattainable goals. (After the drive to defund the ACA, I expected Ted Cruz to ask for a unicorn as well.)
- Politics is the art of the possible, NOT the impossible. While the Tea Party was waiting for President Obama and the Democrats to give up the most important policy since Medicare, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces were crashing and burning. Of course, one could have focused the American people on how the federal marketplaces were not planned well. But no, we had to focus on the magical thinking that the President would just drop health care reform because a freshman Senator from Texas said so. An opportunity was lost. Update: Rod Dreher thinks the Tea Party has a religious zeal, which explains why they were so willing to work for the impossible.
There are probably more thoughts, but that’s all I have for now. What are your thoughts?