I participated in the 2008 campaign because I believed this country had a real chance to pass universal health coverage and achieve other worthy goals. I was positively inspired by Candidate Obama’s intelligence and grace at the top of American politics. I still admire President Obama. But I’m finding a more negative source of motivation these days.
As we lurch towards possible default, the debt ceiling fight is no longer merely about taxes and spending. It’s no longer just a battle about the size of government, social insurance, and mutual obligation, either.
This has become a conflict with a nihilist minority among Republicans. This minority exudes contempt for the craft of public policy. It eagerly seeks whatever violation of our nation’s implicit legislative norms would provide some momentary advantage. This minority now holds hostage the full faith and credit of the United States—a maneuver whose one likely consequence would be to spike interest rates, raise the deficit, and damage the economy.
It’s important for President Obama to win reelection. It may be even more important to defeat the Tea Partiers. This movement’s ideas, bullying tactics and harmful policy agenda must be emphatically defeated and repudiated.
President Obama has sought to strike some reasonable bipartisan deals with Republicans. Sadly, the most extreme Tea Party partisans exert near-veto power over any such deals. The president’s conciliatory approach might even have made disastrous confrontation more likely. His openly-acknowledged concessions to hostage-takers seem to have emboldened them.
I liked the president’s fire today. I hope the Tea Partiers overreach proves to be their undoing. If not we’re all in trouble.