The Republican right's single-minded campaign distorting health care as Obama Care, a phrase that Obama later warmed to has now led to the takeover of the House of Representatives and the shutdown of the government. They used it as a symbol to mobilize and expand their base, and now use it abuse democracy itself.
A well-funded campaign to knock off moderate Republicans and replace them with this simplistic Angry Brigade created a think- alive force that soon learned the dirty tricks of Congressional longevity like gerrymandering districts to make them unchallengeable, and voter suppression tactics to keep the minority/opposition vote down.
All of this was orchestrated in the shadows by a machine of operatives and funded by right-leaning billionaires, thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision. In other countries, conspiracies by cabals is labeled a coup. Here it is accepted as legitimate. Unfortunately, the left is given more to protesting than politics and did not compete, in part, because of its own disgust with all the money and immorality in politics.
Disillusioned by a President who wanted nothing to do with their values, they mostly withdrew from conventional politics into movements like Occupy Wall Street and issue-oriented campaigning. The labor unions, long the mainstay of Democratic Party politics, started shriveling in influence and turned into fundraisers, not marching feet.
The hardcore right, then, almost had the field to themselves even though Democratic battleaxes like Harry Reid who kept the Senate in line, delaying and frustrating a coup that is still underway. A small number of true believers, what the New York Times labels "a powerful group of conservative hard-liners" who are "outflanking" their own leaders.
(One historical irony: many on the right have given to comparing their adversaries as Nazis and even Obama as a Hitler without acknowledging that the Nazi party was elected before destroying their country's institutions to impose their ideology,)
"Don't write the Republicans off as totally crazy. They know that if Obamacare works, it will wreck chances for attaining their real goal--lowering taxes on the rich, wiping out regulations and widening even more the gap between the very rich and everyone else.That is why they and their business allies are fighting so hard against the Affordable Care Act and seeking to bring the federal government to a halt."
Reverend Jesse Jackson puts the current crisis in a historical context, and sees a secession coming like the one that led to the Civilar, I have yet to see this view of Republicans as "nullificationists" in the media, although some critics are calling them "extortionists," even terrorists.
"We're not talking the Boston Tea Party here," says Jackson. "We're talking the Fort Sumter Tea Party. We're talking about a modern, right-wing movement built on a new Republican South in reaction to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A "Southern Strategy" led by Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms led directly to the elections of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and eventually to Speaker Newt Gingrich and President George W. Bush."
What he calls the "Fort Sumter Tea Party"--actually the opening of armed hostilities between South and North--was also preceded by the demonization of Lincoln in much the same was that many on the right make threats against Obama, calling him names and questioning his legitimacy as a President, even an American, never mind the electoral majority he achieved
This shutdown of the government is not about too much federal spending or how to make health care really affordable. It's not even about Obama or the Democrats. (Isn't interesting how many low wage employees of museums and national parks are being hurt even as Congress continues to get paid..
This putsch is about realigning politics, and putting an extreme minority political movement in permanent power.
As both sides blame each other, few solutions are in sight.
Can they be stopped? Will they be?
This crisis exposes the structural problems in our politics and calls attention the contempt a majority of Americans have for both the Congress and this movement of nullification. Polls show Americans have given this deliberately paralyzed Congress their lowest approval rating ever. Obama seems to lack the fortitude to really stand up to the hostage takers by marshaling support from the people. He has not given in but he hasn't prevailed.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).