The Tea Party hostage crisis

The government shutdown is due in large part to a group that is anything but patriotic.

Luis Ruuska

It’s been nearly a week since the U.S. government shut down for the first time in 17 years.

How did we come to this?

Congress’ approval ratings and productivity levels have consistently slid since 2009. It doesn’t take a great leap in logic to see that this rise of dysfunction correlates with the rise of a new political faction within Congress and the country: the Tea Party.

But how did this once relatively small movement come together in such a short time to hijack the GOP and then the nation?

The Tea Party movement sprang up in early 2009 as hundreds rallied to protest help for families facing home foreclosure. But the Tea Party wouldn’t be too focused on the housing market for long — no, they had larger
ambitions.

On Independence Day that year, the “patriots” of the Tea Party held their first protests against Comrade Obama’s love letter to socialism – also known as the Affordable Care Act. This crusade against the health care law is what would spur Tea Party politicians into power in later years.

As it grew over the next several years, the Tea Party sent dozens of politicians to Congress who then waged war on everyone from women to immigrants, but never lost sight of one of the primary promises they made to their constituents: to take down Obama’s health care law.

But they failed, more than 40 times. Obama signed the ACA into law in 2010. The U.S. Supreme Court held up its constitutionality in 2012. Every attempt to repeal the ACA in Congress failed.

So what could the Tea Party do to save face as Oct. 1 brought its worst nightmare? Take the GOP and then the nation hostage.

Once again, the Tea Party coerced House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP to go along with their antics to refuse to compromise with Democrats. Boehner and the GOP have gone along with them.

Why? The Tea Party now has a significant presence in Congress and a passionate following. Boehner and his GOP colleagues know that if they are seen as too liberal, they will lose their seats in the next election.

So here we are, in a government shutdown, because the Tea Party lost on one of the main issues that got so many of its members elected. Of course, instead of conceding, the Tea Party is continuing to drag the shutdown debate in Congress. The American people are suffering the consequences.

The government furloughed 800,000 federal workers without pay, though these employees will likely see back pay due to a bipartisan bill passed in the House.

Even colleges are feeling the effects of the shutdown as all “nonessential” scientific research at public universities has been halted. All five military service academies around the nation faced disruptions in service for their students.

Whether the Tea Party will survive in the future is unclear. This shutdown will either strengthen the Tea Party or destroy it. Polls indicate the public blames the GOP more for the shutdown. Prospects for the Tea Party aren’t looking good.

One thing is clear, however: If we want to restore some functionality and sanity to Congress, the first step is to remove the cancer currently plaguing the GOP.