By Primus Mootry
For The Herald Bulletin
— “Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’er shadowed with blackness
No shelter or help is nigh ...”
Peace Be Still
Will the Capitol Hill madness ever cease? For the remainder of President Obama’s term, I think not.
Out of sheer spite, racist innuendo, and blatant partisan politics, a far-right-wing faction of legislators who call themselves Republicans are hell bent on keeping the storms of dissent blowing wild.
These windbags kept Republican House Speaker John Boehner and our government hostage for 16 days. What did they win? Nothing.
In fact, their foolishness cost you and me — taxpayers — $24 billion, and still counting. How’s that for the thing they say they love so much: fiscal responsibility?
This group of Congressional rebels shut down government and, in the process, threw 10s of thousands of Americans out of work, forced the closure of a wide variety of government services, damaged the mainstream Republican Party brand, and hurt the American people.
Even conservatives call their actions “a fool’s errand.”
Hold on. There will be another budget crisis, another fiscal cliff, and yet another opportunity for this faction to prove that fools are as likely to get elected as reasonable men and women. They can’t wait.
It doesn’t seem to matter that their antics won them nothing this time around. Nothing, that is, except the disrespect of 75 percent of Americans. Curiously, they see this disrespect as evidence that they are, in fact, heroes.
They wrap themselves in the flag, quote Bible scripture, and tell their benighted constituents that unpopularity is the price of true courage. Boehner, they say, is a coward. And Obama and his damnable Obamacare are the true villains.
They can afford to say whatever they want. To the point, their base is beyond the reach of big business and mainstream Republican politics. Through gerrymandering, or redistricting to ensure they will win local and state elections, they play to a political base that carries the Confederate Flag in one hand, and “Don’t Tread on Me” in the other.
In an attempt to fairly judge this faction, I have carefully listened to what they have to say. I watch Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. I read the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the LA Times, and other newspapers and magazines, liberal and conservative.
In my readings and listening, I can honestly say that the social, political, and economic faculties of people such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachman, Mitch McConnell, Sarah Palin, Dr. Ben Carson, and their radio champion, Rush Limbaugh, are highly suspect.
I have listened to them. And I have heard nothing worthy of a grown-up conversation. It is the language of know-nothings and barking dogs. Still, they are there, and they have proved that they are a force (a farce?) to be reckoned with — a political tornado that threatens everything in its path until it spins itself out.
I have listened. Have you? If so, tell me what one thing they have had to say about jobs and job creation, health care for nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, re-building our crumbling infrastructure, improving our schools, and how about climate change? On these and many other issues, sorry to say, I have heard nothing from the far-right faction that makes any grown-up sense.
And so, for the time being at least, we are caught in a storm of rhetoric, partisan bickering, “dog whistle” demagoguery, mudslinging and race-baiting. Whether we weather the storm depends on what we, with the help of God, collectively do and say to quell it.
Although we may have come to this land on different ships and for different reasons, we are all now in the same boat, and on the same stormy seas. I suggest our best chance for survival and progress lies in our ability to row together toward new, solid ground. This is not some wild-eyed philosophical opinion. It is, I think, common sense.
I believe — I know — we have more in common than we have in differences. Read. Listen. Be still. At this crucial moment in the history of mankind, we must not sacrifice the inexhaustible, priceless gift of God-given intelligence for a sack full of dime-store demagoguery.
It will be one way or the other. And, as always, we have a choice to make.
Have a nice day.
Anderson resident Primus Mootry is a retired school teacher. His column appears Wednesdays in The Herald Bulletin.