This is the Life: Can common ground be found in Tea Party vs. Obama?

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Any system involving checks and balances, like a chess game, can end up in a stalemate. As evidence, I present the case of Tea Party vs. President Obama.

With a president and Senate majority coming from the Democrat side and Republicans holding sway in Congress it can probably be said it’s a miracle that anything at all is getting done in the U.S. these days, governmentally speaking. Or perhaps it hasn’t been and maybe that’s not such a bad thing, really. Full-time elected officials are going to assume that their job is not only to govern, but to look busy, even if it means endlessly tinkering with things that might be just as well, or better, left alone.

As the Republican insistence on not funding what has unfortunately become known as Obamacare, guaranteeing a partisan view among supporters and opponents, pushes the country toward financial default, the world watches and waits, having no real picture of what could happen if there is no agreement by Oct. 17 to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling.

Like it or not, the world relies on a stable U.S. economy on which to base its trade. Much world trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, not because it necessarily ideal, but because it’s the best among a whole lot of worse choices. Oil exports from the Middle East are paid for in U.S. currency. While one might expect China, the emerging economic superpower, to step in to fill the vacuum, it has long preferred to control the value of its currency and not leave subject to the whims of global money traders. It probably isn’t a sustainable plan, but it’s worked for China to this point and the system won’t be undone overnight. The Chinese renminbi isn’t a global commodity right now. And the European Commission has too many internal problems to make the Euro an option. The Japanese yen? Forget about it. Russian rubles? Nyet.

So how does the economic model to the world get to the point where it could unravel the global economy? Put it down to the general shift from pragmatism to dogmatism, which is certainly most evident from the Republican side. The anti-government, anti-tax Tea Party has largely usurped the ultra-right, held in recent years by fundamentalist Christians, who until a couple of decades ago weren’t particularly engaged in politics. Without the slightest sign that Democrats or even mainstream Republicans have a workable plan to ease the country’s skyrocketing debt (which has become uncontrollable as a result of the U.S. penchant for sending troops off to battle in a what has become to seem like an endless succession of foreign “wars”, and for cutting a blank cheque for anything that can remotely be defined as “homeland security”) it should come as no surprise that the Tea Partiers have gained a foothold.

There is a more unsettling factor, though. It doesn’t take a particularly long memory to remember Republican mouthpieces stating as the Bush era came to a close that they would rather see their country fail than a President Obama succeed. It is far too simple to label it as racism, though, because I never thought it would be a stretch for the Republicans to elect the first black president if Colin Powell had chosen to make a run at the office.

It’s more likely a truth that American politics have become more polarized than at any time in recent history, to the point that opposing views are simply no longer tolerated by a segment of politicians and, by extension, the public. How else to explain a growing sense that at least some of the Republican hatred of Obamacare comes from a belief that if it becomes entrenched, Americans will actually like it, making it more difficult for Republicans to get elected in the future? Because surely, in their hearts, even the coldest Tea Party ideologues can’t believe that it’s OK for millions of Americans to go to bed in the fear that if they wake up needing medical care it could bankrupt them. It just doesn’t make sense, economically or socially, that making medical care unaffordable for the working poor could be considered a good thing.

From the Democratic side, if they feel compelled to do what seemed almost unthinkable when the idea was first floated and simply mint a trillion dollar coin to do an end-run around the political process, doesn’t that seem almost as risky as going into default? While there is a growing appreciation for the notion that national finances are pretty much a smoke and mirrors con job, are the Democratics so sold on Obamacare that they are willing to risk bringing the global economy to its knees, or lower?

Maybe the military industrial complex is going to have to step in and ask both sides who’s going to pay for all the arms produced if the country can’t afford to go to war.

Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.