As with any illusionist, since 2010, the nihilistic wing of the GOP has used misdirection and subterfuge to get us where we all are at the present.
In the 2010 Mid Term Elections the Republicans rode a Tea Party wave in retaking the House. Jobs, jobs,jobs was the mantra. Their first bill was an abortion bill. During that Congress no jobs bills were enacted. They put together and passed a budget that gutted the safety net as it cut taxes and gave other nods to corporations and the uber wealthy. They did so knowing there was no chance of it passing the Senate.
The session was dominated by heartless, nearly vicious assaults on a Century of progressive laws, policies and hard fought principles. Social Security was targeted as an 'Entitlement" even though it was a program financed by all working Americans. Medicare was targeted. They wanted to replace an insurance program with voucher system. Use up the voucher and Granny was on her own. Unemployment was party money on a paid vacation. SNAP was making people dependent on Government handouts. It was getting the poor addicted to eating.
Regulation was seen as the enemy to unfettered capitalism. They are right on that. You can trust mega corps to look out for their bottom line, not the environment. Or Worker safety. Or consumers. Or the safety of communities where the operations are located.
Financial regulation was an attack on capitalism and class warfare. Following the conversion of Wall Street into a Casino which resulted in a financial meltdown we could count on these "Job Creators" to self regulate. After all, you can depend on them to behave when the adults are not around.
While the left was busy fighting these battles there was movement unnoticed .behind the scenes.
In the Tea Party wave of 2010 we saw the radical Republican zealots challenge conservative and moderate incumbents in primaries. The reason was they were NOT conservative enough. They failed the purity test. These anarchists were mostly elected giving the House to The Republicans. It didn't work so well in Senate races. The GOP was poised to take the upper body but the Democrats held. There was help from the Tea Party as they nominated unqualified, extremest candidates. One had to deny being a witch which I have never witnessed in my time following politics.
From the start Speaker of the House had trouble keeping his Caucus in line. The Tea Party Caucus kept pushing hard from the right. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) saw herself as Presidential Timber. That made her very hard to keep on script as she had her own agenda.
Through 2010 and into 2012 these Radical Republicans tested the House leadership. They were aided by big money outside groups. The Heritage Foundation. FreedomWorks. Senate Conservative Fund and others organized at the local level. They had rallies. They ran ads and collected money. They collected volunteers to pound the pavement. The foot soldiers thought they were independent voices. They were oblivious to the powers behind the scenes ready to exploit the atmosphere created by this fear and anger.
The Koch brothers, whose father was one of the founders of The John Birch Society bankrolled the first and largest Tea Party group. They poured cash into issue orientated tussles. They paid for ads that spread massive disinformation and outright lies about the ACA. The donated heavily to PACs to weigh in on elections, always going with the far right candidate rather than an Establishment candidate.
In spite of the President winning reelection decisively the House went farther right than any could imagine. The Unicorn wing of the Democratic Party can take a hit for that. In 2010, in a fit of pique, they stayed home. This handed a lot of States to the Republicans. These guys then gerrymandered the districts to the point they looked like a Dali painting.
While these visible battles were occurring there was a cabal working behind the scenes. They used the extreme voices as cover as they worked. Radical Republican operatives strove to recruit candidates who shared their hatred of the Federal Government and saw it as out of control. A bastion of tyranny. The world view was the President was a usurper and socialist. The Democrats were anti God forcing a secular rule on Conservative Christian majority. It didn't matter that they aren't the majority, they think they are.
You had the extreme right wing blogosphere extolling the agenda and pushing the views as visionary. Fox News was complicit in airing anyone's views who wanted to demonize the President and the Democrats. Any conspiracy and uninformed idea was treated as a legitimate, reasoned position. The money poured in as a mailing list of the extreme former fringe. Any office holder who strayed from their ideals of purity was challenged and vilified.
The people pushing this agenda came out of the old Nixon/Reagan axis. Ed Meese. Ollie North. G.Gordon Liddy and others. The very rich loved the anti tax, no regulation views and donated heavily. Those whose elections they financed made NO their governing policy. These radicals were cheered on by those despaired a black guy was in the White House as something other than a domestic.
In 2012 as the ACA was a front and center issue the President handed Mitt Romney his ass. People like Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) were also reelected. The electorate spoke. Obamacare won. These reactionary folks, as is Republican policy, refused to recognize an election they lost.
Following the 2012 loss they went totally off the rails. The old meme that had their candidate been a real conservative thay would have won. This delusion was popular after McCain lost in 2008. Sarah Palin complained she was muzzled which cost the GOP the election. Muzzling Sarah was the only viable option the campaign had to avoid a Barry Goldwater sized loss to a Dem.
So the Tea Party came to the present Congress with blood lust in their eyes. Vengeance on a deluded American populace was the plan.
Stronger now and emboldened by having bullet proof districts they decided their way or no way. In the previous Congress they had successfully challenged the Speaker forcing Boehner to walk away from the so called "Grand Bargain". The Torquemada wing realized though outnumbered, they could derail anything they didn't approve of. ACA was in their sights.
So, they forced more than forty meaningless, symbolic repeal votes of the ACA. They refused to allow the appointment of Conference Committee Members to work on the Budget with the Senate. Seems the Senate didn't want to destroy the gains of the last century so there was nothing to talk about. The memory of the 2011 Debt Ceiling was fresh and they saw a weapon to wield against the rest of the Government.
It started in the Senate. The Freshman Senator from thee Great State of Texas suggested tying the Continuing Resolution to fund the Federal Government to defunding the ACA. The Junior Senator from Kentucky signed on as did Florida's, Marco Rubio. Since the idea was absurd from the outset no one took it seriously in the Senate. This included staunch members of the GOP obstruction Caucus. This didn't stop the trio from beating the drums of war.
Ted Cruz pushed the Defund idea hard. Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation added their voice and money. Other groups like FreedomWorks climbed on board putting their troops into the fray. This caught the Tea Party Caucus' attention. They sent a letter to the Speaker demanding the ACA be defunded in the CR.
During the summer recess Cruz made thew media rounds trying to make the case for his vision. The press started to take this serious since it was obvious Cruz was going to run in 2016. As were Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. This trio decided to ride this issue into the White House. They were raising tons of money for the groups that supported this idea. mailing lists were being created to supply infantry for the mid terms and a Presidential bid.
Speaker John Boehner effectively lost control of The House. The business groups pouring cash into these Members PACs and campaigns lost control of the beast they'd created. Keeping zealots in control is like herding cats.
Heritage Action and others ran ads attacking REPUBLICAN House Members who were sane enough to see this was a bad idea. These attack ads were coupled with misleading and completely false claims in ads attacking the ACA. Pressure mounted on House members through phone calls and letters supporting extortion as a viable political tool. When the CR came up for a vote, the pulled the pin.
The GOP fully expected the Dems to fold in spite of a veto threat by PBO and the Majority Leader of the Senate saying it was DOA there. Cruz admitted he didn't have the votes in the Senate to pass the defund CR. HE was immediately attacked as a coward for putting the fight squarely on the House.
Cruz backtracked and took to the Senate Floor for a 21 hour infomercial to delay the vote.
The Government shut down loomed and happened.
Since then the House is outraged that stuff they like is closed So the spin now is they didn't want a shutdown. It was the Dems fault for not being extorted. They need to negotiate over a passed law.
This shows willful ignorance of how the Framers of the Constitution set hurdles to prevent tyranny from a single House. If you don't like a law, craft legislation that can pass BOTH Houses of Congress and be signed by the President. you don't get to nullify an election just because you don't approve of the results. It's that simple.
We are careening now towards the Debt Limit fight. The Right is digging in their heels. They are intent on burning down the house and blocking the firetrucks. The spin machine is trying to recast this as a purely Democratic conceived crisis. This argument isn't flying. Rational people are placing the blame right at the feet of House Republicans. This can possibly hurt in 2014 even with the gerrymandered districts. However that is in the future and Democrats have a talent to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
This fight comes down to a fight for the survival of our form of Government. Do we allow a minority of a majority in one House of Congress to stage a coup? Do we allow lies to replace the truth? Do we protect the weak and needy or cast them into the waves of despair?
Who are we?