What the hell were they thinking?
Nic tries to understand the Tea Party. Predictably, it doesn't go well.
A bunch of lunatics just came very close to making the US default on its debt. That is, the richest nation on Earth—the nation that defeated the Nazis, put men on the moon and won the Cold War—came within a hair of being shut down by about 80 people in the House of Representatives [known as the "Suicide Caucus."][sc] Ostensibly this was over President Obama's—[a.k.a "De Fuhrer"][df]—Affordable Care Act going into effect.
That is, the healthcare reform that *deep sigh* was originally conceived of by a conservative think tank, was field-tested by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney while governor of Massachusetts, was passed into law, was then ratified as constitutional by the Supreme Court—that law—was decreed "unconstitutional" by 80 people and they decided it was worth causing untold damage to the nation they profess to love in order to stop it.
And we're not talking a little damage. We're talking a meltdown of the economy. *Boom. Nuclear option.*
The shutdown itself reportedly [cost about $24 billion with a "B" dollars][cost] by conservative (*rimshot*) estimate.
But for the Suicide Caucus, it was worth it, and more besides. Better the nation burn than pass an entirely constitutional reform.
Obviously there have been a lot of words written about this and an entire class of bloviating assholes have made good money talking about it around the clock on cable news.
You could make a very good case that the Affordable Care Act itself was just a proxy issue, and that it all boils down to Obama Derangement Syndrome: *Aiiieee Kenyan socialist fascist black I'm not racist*.
But let's take the Suicide Caucus at face value. Let's say they are really worried about the Affordable Care Act and believe it is The End of America and somehow unconstitutional and somehow the final nail in the coffin of Real America.
This is where the real headache comes pounding. The Affordable Care Act is a flawed—to say the least—piece of legislation, but essentially what it does is to provide health care to people who previously couldn't afford it.
And this is a terrible, horrible, no-good thing? What?
Apparently this is terrible because it will lead to people becoming lazy. Somehow. And reliant on the government. Somehow. Apparently some kind of death panels are involved, staffed with people who are giggling and rubbing their hands together at the thought of pulling the plug on grandma.
In contrast to the fuzzy feel-gooders at the insurance companies.
Basically, it's a good thing for poor people who couldn't afford health care and, *and this is important*, doesn't affect people who currently have jobs that provide health care coverage because, well, duh, they already have coverage.
*But it's a terrible, no good thing! You betcha!*
Trying to sort out the logic here is oh so painful, but it seems here's how it goes: If you don't have health care now it's because you're a patriot. Or you're lazy. In which case the rest of this paragraph doesn't apply to you, you parasite. Obama just made you—a proud white working man—unpatriotic whether or not you wanted to. You used to be a hero, but now you're just a cog in a government scheme, man!
So dying in pain from preventable illnesses is now somehow patriotic?
Let's accept that for the moment. It's difficult, but let's do that.
Let's turn to the typical Tea Party voter, who tends to be a low-income, low-information white person in a rural area. This is statistically true. (The older ones tend to be on Medicare, which is a government program, but let's not have our brains explode at this point.) We're looking at the kind of people who *will be helped* by this program. And yet it's the Worst Thing Ever.
It's tricky to reconcile this. It could be that they're just so patriotic they'd rather waste away from diabetes or high blood pressure or a car accident rather than suffer the indignity of leaning on the government. Because the government is bad and only helps lazy people.
They are indeed Protectors of the Realm, knowing the Truth: Government gives all the money to the gay negro abortion union.
They, of course, would never take the government handout. Never. Except the free scooter from Medicare. And the prescription drugs. And they would rather die than let the government get involved with Medicare.
And it's worth blowing up the entire country. Don't forget that.
What's extra frustrating about the Tea Party movement is that I'm sympathetic to where they come from: You look around you and see that the wheels are starting to come off the nation with crumbling infrastructure, increasing income inequality, lack of government transparency and decreasing social mobility. It's not good. But then to decide the problem is that poor people are getting access to medical services? How does A lead to B?
Or more likely is they looked around at what's happening to society, and what they saw was gay people not having to hide in shame, black people and latinos finding good jobs and more and more people not feeling the need to go to church, upsetting their fantasy reality of the ’50s and How Things Are Supposed to Be.
Man, I thought putting this down instead of having it in my head would make me feel better. It did not.
You like to read about politics? Oh, I have thoughts about politics!
After all these years, Nic still can’t understand the American attitude to healthcare.
The Occupy movement, the Tea Party, and now Trump. America is angry.
Nic has never been more worried for the future of America.
The GOP base is searching for a new Evil Empire to fight.
Did you know the U.S. government is planning to invade Texas? Well, it’s not. Nic attempts to explain.
The Republic prints another sad editorial about net neutrality. Nic’s regard couldn’t be any lower.
The Arizona Republic prints a willfully ignorant editorial against net neutrality. It makes Nic unhappy.
Nic tries to understand why people choose to live lives of fear and anger.
The American voting system is stuck in a time warp. This makes Nic sad.
There are ways to fix the illegal immigration problem. They don’t involve yelling at children in buses. Nic explains.
Game of Thrones and The First Law Trilogy illustrate the different ways England and America are dealing with fading empires.
It’s way easier to be an extremist in America if you’re white.
The idea that both the left and the right in America are getting more extreme is false. Here’s why.
The standard right-wing approach to privatizing public goods like education and health care.
The Arizona Republic editorial board thinks the young ’uns are lazy.
If things are in balance, there should be Marxists.
Nic tries to understand the Tea Party. Predictably, it doesn't go well.
Nic immigrated to an America that looks to the future and uses science and engineering to make the world as great as possible. And then there's another America.
The harrassment charges against Cain and the sad kabuki theater of the Republican nominations.
Campaign season is gearing up in America and Nic has some thoughts on the endless primaries ahead.
Political news coverage in America tends to be abysmal. Nic explores why.