Post-Democracy Republicans

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I have done several posts over the years about "post-truth politics," and the "post-policy nihilism" of the Republican Party. Now Dave Weigel at Slate characterizes recent remarks by the GOP's alleged boy genius, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), as evidence of "post-democracy Republicans" — in essence, elections no longer have consequences (at least when Democrats are the winners).

CryingteabagbabySteve Benen chimes in, A 'post-democracy' phase:

[There is an] underlying phenomenon: GOP lawmakers feel justified in creating a
series of deliberate crises because they lost at the ballot box
. If only
Americans had elected them, they wouldn't need to threaten us.

As Jon Chait put it,
Paul Ryan's argument is that Republicans need to force Obama to accept
their agenda, "not in spite of the fact that the voters rejected it at
the polls but precisely for that reason."

Democracies really aren't supposed to work this way.

Benen expounds on this in another post, A series of 'near-death experiences':

In April 2011, congressional Republicans threatened a government shutdown. In July 2011, congressional Republicans created the first debt-ceiling crisis in American history. In September 2011, congressional Republicans threatened a government shutdown. In April 2012, congressional Republicans threatened a government shutdown. In December 2012, congressional Republicans pushed the nation towards the so-called "fiscal cliff." In January 2013, congressional Republicans briefly flirted with the possibility of another debt-ceiling crisis. In March 2013,
congressional Republicans threatened a government shutdown. And right
now, in September 2013, the odds of a government shutdown are quite good
once again.

That's eight self-imposed, entirely unnecessary,
easily avoidable crises since John Boehner got his hands on the
Speaker's gavel — a 33-month period in which Congress racked up zero
major legislative accomplishments
.

Josh Marshall had a good item on the trend over the weekend.

Years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined the phrase 'defining
deviancy down.' James Q. Wilson popularized the conceptually related
"broken windows" theory of crime and crime prevention. Whether or not
these theories and catch phrases work as sociology is separate question;
subsequent research has not been kind. But they capture the toxic
consequences of the normalization and expanded acceptance of destructive
behavior
— something that not only applies to individuals and
communities but to states and their internal workings. Stepping back
from the latest Washington debacle, you quickly see how far down this
road we've gone without really even realizing it.

It has started to feel normal that two or three times a year we have a
major state/fiscal crisis and maybe once every 18 months or two years,
there is a true breakdown with fairly grave consequences….. [T]his is
really unprecedented stuff — deep attacks on the state itself inasmuch
as the state requires for it to function a penumbra of norms surrounding
the formal mechanisms of government
.

Quite right. In fact, I think it creates unsettling
conditions and raises uncomfortable questions about the future of the
American experiment.

Put simply, great nations can't function this
way. The United States can either be a 21st-century superpower or it
can tolerate Republicans abandoning the governing process and subjecting
Americans to a series of self-imposed extortion crises. It cannot do
both
.

We can be the indispensable nation — we can even be a shining city
on a hill — but not with a radicalized major party that throws seasonal
tantrums that threaten the nation's wellbeing. The cost is simply too
great.

In the abstract, I imagine Americans who don't pay
attention to day-to-day developments have come to expect routine
gridlock and partisan bickering. Democrats and Republicans arguing is
arguably the ultimate in dog-bites-man stories.

But those same
Americans should search their memories: have they ever seen a governing
party threaten five government shutdowns in less than three years, while
sprinkling two debt-ceiling crises on top?

The American tradition
has no experience with our own elected officials imposing deliberate
crises on the nation — as if one of our major political parties is mad
at us and feels the need to punish us for offending them
.

* * *

My suggestion to [Republicans], however, is that they introduce legislation that
would deliver their preferred goals. If it passes, they'll get what they
want. If it fails, they can try winning more elections. Either way,
watching Republican officials — ostensibly elected to advance our
interests — threaten national harm every few months has quite tiresome.

More than tiresome, it is dangerous, and as Benen notes, undermines public confidence in democracy.

Benen adds in How Congress reached this point:

[Republicans] decided to abandon the budget process
they themselves had asked for so they could do precisely what they're
doing now — use extortion instead of compromise to try to get what they
want.

The government may shut down in 15 hours, but it's not an accident.
Indeed, it could have been easily avoided if Congress had just done what
Congresses are supposed to do when the House and Senate disagree on the
budget. But Republicans insisted on this confrontation, hoping that if
they just threatened enough harm, maybe Democrats would put aside the
election results and meet some or all of the GOP's demands.

There
is a process already in place that's intended to prevent disasters like
these. House Republicans deliberately rejected it because they wanted a
crisis, assuming it would give them "leverage" so they wouldn't have to
compromise at all.

I imagine there are quite a few Americans
waking up this morning thinking, "Wait, the government is about to shut
down?" What they don't appreciate is the fact that GOP lawmakers always
intended for this to happen, and set this plan in motion months ago.

And yet the feckless corporate media is publishing all kinds of false equivalency bullshit today saying that both sides are to blame, and both sides need to compromise. America does not negotiate with terrrorists. Period. Full stop. This is a manufactured crisis using "chaos theory" to create "leverage," i.e., a hostage demand by which to extort concessions from Democrats for Tea-Publican economic terrorists to get their way.

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