There’s a little more than a week remaining before the government shuts down. That is, unless Republicans and Democrats are able to come to an agreement over the federal budget.
So far, there seems to be an insuperable barrier separating the two sides: Obamacare. Since its passage and more acutely since the Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate, a central component of the law, constitutional last year, Republicans have made repealing Obamacare central to their legislative agenda.
Now, some in the Republican Party are threatening to shut down the government unless the health care law is defunded. The government, the economy and the United States’ standing in the world are, it appears, hostages worth taking for these Republicans.
It’s important to note that many Republicans oppose taking such an important hostage. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, is one such Republican, saying a government shutdown would “send the economy into a tailspin.”
Rather, the government’s dissolution will be due to people like Ted Cruz, a Tea Party Republican from Texas. He, along with other members of the far right fringe — Rand Paul, to name another prominent member of that faction — don’t just oppose Obamacare, but anything Obama-related. They believe Obama should be impeached and pander to conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. In August of last year, for example, Sen. Paul tweeted about the Weather Service stockpiling ammunition — a bogus story started at Infowars, a notorious conspiracy theorist site, and reprinted by the Drudge Report, a more mainstream conservative website.
What makes the fringe’s vehement opposition to Obama more than just a nuisance is that, instead of opposing the president on his policies’ merits, the fringe weaves a narrative in which Obama is a wannabe tyrant whose every policy is intended to bring about the end of the republic.
This fringe claims that it is composed of real Americans, while liberals and mainstream Republicans are part of a coalition determined to destroy America. But looking at the way this fringe acts, it’s clear they are the ones doing a far greater disservice to America.
They undermine its institutions: The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, upholds Obamacare? The court must be full of communists, idiots or people in on the conspiracy. A plurality in Congress opposes defunding Obamacare? The government must be shut down until it is defunded.
Most insidious of all, these so-called patriots mirror the positions and ideas of some questionable characters. Infowars, to which the Drudge Report frequently links, takes much of its source material from Russia Today, the Russian government’s media branch. Another main source is Press TV, the Iranian government’s media wing.
Couple this with many far right voters’ fascination with and even admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin and you have a disturbing trend.
It’s a growing mistrust and hostility toward the American government. With militias in the country increasing 400 percent since Obama took office, growing calls for a Second Revolution and claims that the government will one day soon be replaced by a dictatorship, America needs a reality check.