The widely publicized Republican civil war has been described as a battle between traditional Republicans and a small group of anarchists, the House Freedom Caucus, who oppose the direction our government is going in, and will shut it down if they don’t get their way. Not exactly true. They want to change its direction all right, but they want to do it by replacing our traditional form of government with their own version, no matter what the majority of American citizens want.
Western North Carolina’s own Rep. Mark Meadows is a leader of the caucus and played a significant role when it caused the disastrous government shutdown of 2013. That time they demanded that the House refuse to fund the Affordable Care Act even if it meant there would be no federal budget for anything. This year he played a major role in forcing House Speaker John Boehner to resign his position, and the decision of Kevin McCarthy to change his mind about running for speaker of a seriously dysfunctional House.
Their current goal is to defund Planned Parenthood, which doesn’t get federal funding for abortions, and which 61 percent of Americans approve funding, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Meadows and his caucus again threaten our government with shutdown if they don’t get their way. Now, if successful, that would be real government control of American lives, and it’s hard to imagine a more ruthless government than that.
Incredibly, Rep. Meadows’ states on his website: “Restoring the House to a functioning body that isn’t run by a few members and truly represents the voices of the American people will be a tough task, but one that many of my colleagues and I are committed to achieving.” He claims he wants to “stop the practice of manufacturing crises and governing from one to the next.” These quotations are not out of context.
This is a classic example of the “inoculation” propaganda technique. You accuse your opponents of doing the very same thing you know you’re doing. Then, when opponents charge you with doing it, the uninformed public shrugs their collective shoulders and concludes that it’s a tossup. It also gives your partisan supporters a basis for claiming the moral high ground in a dispute. Comments coming from the majority of previous and current traditional Republicans are indicators of who really represents the few vs. the many in Congress, and who is manufacturing crises and governing from one partisan-created crisis to the next.
Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania: “those who wanted to take down John Boehner will frag the next guy and that’s what we saw just happened. … I’m not going to support anyone running for speaker who is going to appease the rejectionist wing of this party.” Rep. Peter King of New York said of the Freedom Caucus: “We can’t allow 35 or 40 people to hijack the party and blackmail the Congress. We have to get things done.” After McCarthy withdrew his candidacy, King described the meeting: “It is total confusion — a banana republic, any plan, anything you anticipate — who knows what’ll happen? People are crying, they don’t have any idea how this will unfold, at all.”
House Speaker John Boehner: “The Bible says beware of false prophets, and there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done. This whole notion that we’re going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013, that plan never had a chance. We got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town, who whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things they know — they know — are never going to happen.”
Former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott and Senator Lamar Alexander may have summed it up best. Sen. Lott: “This hell-no caucus — the degree of purity that they’re looking for doesn’t exist. I’m sure they’re nice people, but Washington is not a place where you can come in off the street and make it work.” And Sen. Alexander: “It is very important for Republicans to govern, to demonstrate to the country that they can trust us with the government.”
The overwhelming evidence is that the Freedom Caucus is hell-bent to do just the opposite.
Chuck Kelly is a retired management consultant living in Burnsville and is author of The Destructive Achiever; power and ethics in the American corporation and Farewell Fantasyland; time for political and economic reality. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.