The hollow men

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

-T.S. Eliot
This crisis was manufactured, yes, but for a purpose.

The country as it is trending is a country which frightens an unfortunately significant number of Americans. Not significant enough to win elections, as one does in a democratic republic, but significant enough so that it adheres to itself the power of destruction.

If the Tea Party caucus in the House was its own party, and not part of the GOP, it would be a toothless, useless animal. It doesn't have the votes to pass the renaming of a post office, much less matters of national import. But, it is part of the GOP caucus, and its power doesn't lie in numbers. Its power lies in what any mafioso would recognize: that of extortionate threats. And any Republican who might want to make an accommodation with the Democrats has to look over his shoulder, wondering what Freedom Works will do when the next primary comes up. If they were men and women of honor, they would damn the next election and do what's right to save the country. But we have to come to the point where we stop deluding ourselves: there is no moderate GOP caucus. If one existed, it would have revolted by now, siding with House Democrats and ending this farce. It hasn't. And it won't.

Today's GOP, all of it, from John Boehner down to Louie Gohmert, consist of hollow men and women. They're not in government to serve the commonwealth. They don't believe in the United States, not the country as it exists. They believe in a country which never existed, where everyone knew one's place, and people like them were at the top, or, more frankly, local capos.

There are no moderates. They all serve an ideology of death, one which says that if the country can't conform to their vision, then they will destroy it, and take the rest of the world with it as well.

I would like to believe that Boehner will come to his senses. But he has shown no hint of that. He has no sense. Whether it's fear or brute callousness is immaterial. The results are the same. He can't lead because he doesn't want to lead. The scuppering of yet another House GOP plan by conservative interest groups because it wasn't bloody enough is evidence of this. Boehner's plan was another awful one, but not awful enough. So he has again abdicated all responsibility.

This is a manufactured crisis, but one manufactured with a purpose.

The hollow men who fund the GOP don't care a whit for the Constitution, only insofar as it can be interpreted to benefit them. And if it stands in their way, better that the whole house burn. They'll survive, or so they think. They think themselves masters of the universe, able to thrive in any environment, even one of chaos. But chaos respects nothing but brute strength, and they may find that the skills which served them well in a regulated market will be as ash in the brave new world towards which they wish us to slouch.

The Koch brothers thrive only because they live in a functioning state, with laws, courts, a military. How will they continue to flourish when all of it falls apart? And if we default, and if the world's economy is thrown into the ocean, how can they be sure that they'll be able to control events? History has a strange way of spiraling out of control, even of those as well-heeled as the Kochs. They may find that their money buys not many friends, when they and their peers engineer a needless catastrophe.

Barack Obama was the catalyst, the final affront to a sense of privilege slipping away. As I've observed him, and written about him, I've seen that from the beginning he's seen the existential problem facing this country. It is one which sees democracy as a problem, because the wrong people are getting a taste of power. A democracy in which a son of a white Kansas mother and a black Kenyan father can ascend to the world's most powerful office is a democracy which is malfunctioning, according to some. It is a democracy which has to be scaled back, straitened, "reformed" so that such a thing doesn't keep happening. Obama embodies everything they fight against. He is the new America, which, ironically, they want to abort.

But it has already been born. And it is finding its feet. And it will not be told to retreat back to its ghetto.

The hollow men have already lost, as hollow men always do. But they can do great damage in their defeat. The next twenty-four hours will be as fraught with meaning as the Cuban missile crisis, as the struggle against Nazism, as the great fratricide of the Civil War. Hopefully this won't be our epitaph:
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.