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Culleny: Madness by design

New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman blogged an essential point recently. He suggested “... the madness of the GOP is the central issue of our time.”

The effect of that madness is that we are not being governed; we’re lurching from one manufactured crisis to another because one of our two parties has shown itself to despise the democratic process — a process that requires compromise. All the major problems that loom before us are not being addressed because Republicans have become a party of petty tyrants whose governing strategy is one of tantrums. The most immediate threat facing us is not violent terrorism or economic stagnation per se, it’s the Republican policy, both national and state, to work relentlessly to undermine national progress because, among other things, the demographic specter that haunts them (the ascendance of people of color in the ranks of voters) has blown their sanity.

As Krugman says, “Right now, if inherent importance were all that mattered, I wouldn’t be writing about the effects of sprawl, or the Fed succession, or even, probably, about China’s brick-wall problem. I would instead be writing all the time about the looming chaos in U.S. governance.”

Monkey-wrench-in-the-works governance is not governance, it’s sabotage. If, as politicians and the media love to frame it, we are at war with terror, with a failing economy and immigration policy, with an ineffective education system, with chronic unemployment, with environmental threats and with government snooping, then Republican saboteurs are as guilty of aiding and abetting our enemies as much as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden allegedly are.

Of course, we should not be surprised at what Republicans are doing. As the party blatantly began yielding to the influence of right wing extremists and corporations (especially during and since the presidency of Ronald Reagan) red flags should have been going up all over the place.

Many Republicans, for instance, are proud of having signed Grover Norquist’s pledge never to raise taxes. What this means is that their pledge to protect and defend the Constitution was superseded by their pledge to Norquist, a conservative think-tank politician who, besides dreaming up his no-tax pledge, said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

GOP conservatives, who now control the party, would rather not have the people vote. As we all know, people can be pesky and people who vote can be especially pesky, especially if they’re not voting for the right people. So we’ve heard and seen a lot lately about how Republicans, especially in state legislatures that they control, are infecting the electoral process with all sorts of voter suppression viruses. But these moves should, again, not be surprising. They flow from the brain trust of conservative think tanks, like the Heritage Foundation, and from its religious conservative co-founder Paul Weyrich, who 30 years ago unashamedly admitted in a speech in Dallas, “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

What’s more, the Republican Party is not coy about its abandonment of the people and its commitment to deregulate everything, destroy the power of labor and privatize the public commons. Both Republicans and many Democrats have sold their political souls to big business, to bankers, to Wall Street, but Republicans have gone in whole hog. They are now the ACP, the American Corporate Party.

This is the kind of counter-the-Constitution craziness that Krugman is talking about. The kind that would take a government established for the people and re-establish it for some of the people — and, in order to buck the demographic trend that indicates the U.S. will soon have a majority of minorities, will also try to obstruct any progress in the hope of gaining political control.

Imagine that. Imagine having obstructed and voter-suppressed their way to power, what Republicans would do with the fruits of their manipulation while under corporate or religious control.


H.G. Wells wrote in his “Outline of History,” “The feudal state was one in which, it has been said, private law had usurped the place of public law. But rather it is truer that public law had failed and vanished and private law had come in to fill the vacuum.”

As the looney Republican obstructionists continue to try to drown the people’s government in the bathtub, the corporate robber barons move in with their graft, their bribes, their tea-party puppets and finish it off — creating the FSA (Feudal States of America).

If that’s the kind of country you want, keep silent, be still, you’ll get it.

Culleny lives in Shelburne Falls, works in construction, is a singer/songwriter, and has done commentary for National Public Radio. His email address is

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