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The end of American democracy, the Republicans and the federal government shutdown

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Workers protest the ongoing shutdown of the federal government on Capitol Hill in Washington
Workers protest the ongoing shutdown of the federal government on Capitol Hill


Give me what I want or I will blow you, me and the world's economy sky high. This is what Republican Congressional politics actually sounds like in 2013.

Having delivered on their carefully planned threat to cause a government shutdown, House Speaker John Boehner is now raising the stakes even higher by threatening a catastrophic default.

“That's the path we're on,” Boehner said simply on ABC's This Week on Sunday.

The message from his party is as stark as it is reprehensible -- we'll set the world on fire, including ourselves, if President Obama doesn't negotiate, and by negotiate we mean give us everything we want, with absolutely nothing in return.

This is how today's GOP practices its scorched earth politics now. But this is politics as hostage taking. This is extortion rather than consensus.

This is nuts.

If the president caves to this unprecedented level of intimidation from the GOP it will establish the precedent that this mutually assured destruction tactic becomes a common political practice.  It would be the end of American democracy.

Making a threat to destroy the nation's own economy is a threat we should all -- including the political bank rollers in Wall Street -- pay attention to.

Democrats have already given Republicans the clean “continuing resolution” they wanted, so Republicans have responded by demanding more.  This isn't conducting negotiations.  This is a full on tantrum to get everything your way, regardless of your actual mandate.

The GOP strategy, if you could call it that, seems to be to force Obama's hand to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. Then, of course, they will probably vote to impeach him.

That's the measure of how shockingly underhand and partisan the party has become.  If that happened it would have no chance of passing in the Senate. It's bad enough they're even contemplating it.
What motivates all these zero sum machinations is becoming clearer with each passing day.  The GOP are becoming a minority in the land they feel born to lead.

But since they have lost the last two presidential elections, they are showing that actual votes and mandates really aren't as important as holding the keys to the gunpowder chest.

Destroying America to save it seems to be the mantra now.  Preventing over 30 million uninsured from getting access to affordable health care is, for the GOP-controlled House, the most important issue the nation has ever faced, important enough to crash our own and the world's economies.

The message seems to be if you can't win based on the merits of your own argument, then you can produce a virtual gun instead and convince people that way.

That's the level of buffoonery that is now passing for governance in Congress. No wonder New York's own Republican Congressman Peter King has had enough of what he calls the “Ted Cruz” wing of his party.

But this desperate, last ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (AFA) is as pathetic as it is pointless.

The AFA was passed in 2010 by Congress, and it even withstood a Supreme Court challenge.

The 2012 election was fought over it and won by Democrats. That means the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.

It's the Republican control of Congress that may not be.

There has never been a government shutdown in protest of a law before.  The most extremist members of the Tea Party wing of the GOP, the “we don't want small government we want no government” crowd, are feeling exhilarated, because without winning the presidential election they have in effect taken a kind of control of the executive branch.

EPA, Education, Labor, Transportation, FDA, and so on are all shut down. A terrifying federal default is around the corner. They are living their dream as they give the rest of us nightmares.

If you want to know just how broken American governance can still become, have a look at the future through their eyes.

Again, political negotiations go like this -- if you give me that I will give you this. They do not go like, give me everything I want or I will blow us all up.

This new ideology of extortion, if it proves successful, will be used over and over again by Republicans.

For the rest of us it will mean that we will always have to live under the threat of a political and economic nuclear strike that is actually home grown.

This is anarchy dressed up as political principal. It's nuts. It has to be resisted.

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