Perhaps the best characterization of the U.S. political scene since the turn of the 21st century is to say that we have been ruled primarily by an incompetent minority.
Let’s face it. The victory this week over the economic know-nothing Tea Party came with very few spoils for the American people: All the majority got was the right to keep a functioning economy through the rest of the year and a continuation of the sequestration spending cuts that have hurt so many people and serve as a drag on the economy. So in a real sense the minority ruled.
And it is an incompetent minority who don’t understand fully the dire ramifications of not extending the debt ceiling and who fought a battle that they could not win. That battle cost the economy billions of dollars, put hundreds of thousands of people out of work and ground to a halt much of the workings of government, but not the processes related to the law whose implementation the minority said they wanted to impede.
It’s taken political trickery and the selection of partisanship over what’s good for the country to keep a minority—and often a minority of the minority—in power. It started with what may have been election tampering in Florida in the 2000 presidential election that was affirmed by the Supreme Court voting along party lines. This combination of state shenanigans and Supreme Court recklessness led to a man who admitted basing decisions on gut and faith rather than facts and analysis being declared president even though he had fewer votes.
So the minority took charge in 2000, and what an incompetent minority it was: The pursuit of the Iraqi war without a plan to govern Iraq displayed incompetence. Going to war with Iraq instead of chasing Osama bin Laden displayed incompetence. Establishing a gulag of torture sites displayed incompetence because most military experts agree that torture doesn’t work (and whatever any movie portrays, the facts show that torture did not help capture bin Laden).
Then there’s Hurricane Katrina, which displayed Bush Administration incompetence at its low point.
When Barack Obama swept into office in 2008 he brought with him an army of competent people, but after a brilliantly planned 2008 election strategy, the president and Democrats forgot that you need both houses to govern. They incompetently let the Tea Party dominate the 2010 Congressional and statewide elections. Of course, the Tea Party had a lot of help from the mainstream news media which lionized them while ignoring the many progressive candidates and rallies that took place before the 2010 election. Analyses of polls show that Tea Party candidates won because many Democratic voters stayed home. The 2010 surge for right-wingers came about because the Democrats stupidly forgot to rally their own troops.
Once having won a majority of 2010 state legislatures, the Republicans were in a position to gerrymander new Congressional districts that gave them a large number of secure House seats. Thus in 2012, the Republicans kept the House, even though they won millions of fewer votes for their Congressional candidates than the Democrats did.
The current Congress majority was thus elected by a minority of voters. A minority of the minority—the Tea Party—took control of the legislative process because of the incompetence of Speaker Boehner and the fear of moderate Republicans that the Tea Party would spend lots of money to defeat them in primaries.
And now the Tea Party has revealed how incompetent it is by driving the country to the brink of financial ruin—and for a goal that could not be attained.
Let’s hope that Democrats have learned from the 2010 experience and treat the 2014 midterm election as if it were as important as a presidential election. That means raising a lot of money and reminding the voters constantly of how the Republican Party almost let a right-wing know-nothing faction destroy the world economy. It means sending the president, VP Biden, Bill and Hillary and new progressive heros Elizabeth Warren and Bill DeBlasio all over the country to campaign for Democratic Congressional representatives, state legislators, county commissioners, even dog catchers!! It means loading vans with minorities, senior citizens and students and bringing them to the polls to vote on Election Day.
It’s time that the American people rose up and overthrew the tyranny of the incompetent minority that has been running this country into the ground since the election of Bush II.