Tea partiers adopted that name because it supposedly reflected their feisty allegiance to grassroots democracy, but nothing could be further from the truth. In adopting the use of extortion to enact a wish list that they could not persuade voters to buy in voting booths, the tea partiers are attacking the fundamental principles of American government laid down by our Founding Fathers. They are also fearful of taking a simple vote, that most elemental of American actions.
The tea party faction of the House of Representatives is opposed to a simple up or down vote on a federal spending bill unencumbered by elements of the tea party fantasy list that would, if passed, end the destructive shutdown. Middle-of-the-road Republicans worried about their election chances next year in non-gerrymandered districts might just join Democrats in passing the bill. Speaker John Boehner, an alleged leader who is fact the most craven of followers, has not called for the vote because he is afraid of the tea party monster he and Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell cynically helped create.
"My simple message today is, ‘Call a vote,' " said President Obama in a speech Thursday. "Take a vote. Stop this farce, and end this shutdown now." Take a vote, a clean one, unencumbered by politics and ideology. What a democratic concept.
As the shutdown debate drags on, it threatens to merge with a possible House refusal to raise the debt ceiling, leading to an unprecedented default on the U.S. debt that the Treasury Department warned Thursday could have dire economic consequences, including a Wall Street crash. Should that happen, the Koch Brothers and other 1 percenters who have used their millions to manipulate the tea partiers to fight against their own economic interests by opposing the Affordable Care Act and other constructive proposals may, like Washington's Republican leadership, come to fear the monster they helped create. America will need a clean vote on that critical issue as well.