The government shutdown and perhaps a mid-month default on the national debt have served one useful purpose: They have made clear why many of us are not conservatives.
For starters, there is the constant state of agitation that is apparently required. Why people allow politics perpetually to bunch up their undergarments makes no sense to me. Politics is populated by politicians, for goodness sake, so what do people expect? Even polecats know to steer clear of that sort.
Why, if my politics gave me a constant wedgie, I'd get another sort of politics. One can only assume that the hard-core conservatives in the Tea Party go commando. Perhaps this explains why their blood is constantly boiling, thanks to the rough edge of reality rubbing their delicate parts the wrong way.
The Tea Party was a strange phenomenon from the start. It began no later than February 2009, apparently sparked by the efforts to stimulate and shore up the economy left moribund by the previous administration. This, of course, was an outrage to some. How dare anybody rebuff the iron will of the market for the general welfare!
President Barack Obama had been in office one month -- one month! -- yet already he was considered a socialist/Marxist. Most presidents get a political honeymoon -- Mr. Obama wasn't given enough time to find the White House bathroom. But thank goodness his race was not a factor, and if you believe that, pull my leg, it's got a bell on it.
To be fair, the Tea Party folks had a reason to be angry. Like so many Rip Van Winkles who had suddenly awakened after years of slumber, they were shocked to find that the nation had a big deficit and the economic engine urgently needed more money to restart it.
No wonder they were cranky. They had missed the part where Vice President Dick Cheney said deficits don't matter anymore. So they did the most natural thing that occurred to them in the circumstances: They blamed Mr. Obama.
It must have been tough to be a conservative during that time because much of what passed as conservative thought was an insult to the average intelligence, which, not to boast, I fancy I possess in average amounts.
To supplement the newly discovered obsession with the deficit, the populace had to be stirred by reports of birth certificates, administration czars and presidential teleprompters, all of them bogus issues enlisted in the search for outrage. Then Obamacare came along to add another big log to the fire of resentment.
Government health care is the strangest thing to rile the restive right. First of all, it is not like the big government systems in Canada or Britain. Big corporate insurance companies are in the thick of Obamacare, more's the pity.
A single-payer system would have been government health care. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides government health care, although nobody dares to call that socialism out of deference to the veterans. Maybe every American could join the Army for one day and then Obamacare would not be objectionable.
It is strange enough that insuring millions of Americans against medical calamity is not seen by conservatives as a moral imperative in their allegedly Christian nation, but as an abomination in the sight of the Almighty (i.e., the dollar) and the prophets (i.e., Ayn Rand).
What is stranger still is the health care plan's individual mandate was hatched in the conservative Heritage Foundation and later introduced into Massachusetts by Gov, Mitt Romney. It was a Republican idea! Just as well. Can you think how mad conservatives would have been if Mr. Obama had come up with the idea himself?
As it is, they have already shut down the government in the style of demand-making gangsters -- "Nice little (big) government you got here, it would be a shame if something happened to it" -- and now threaten to default on the nation's debt and to heck with full faith and credit -- "Nice little (big) international monetary system you got here ..."
This ruination is being brought in the name of fiscal responsibility. Veterans of the Vietnam War will remember the story of the village that had to be destroyed in order to save it. Now that idea is back, thanks to over-caffeinated, self-proclaimed patriots. Patriots? Pull my other leg, it has a small liberty bell attached to it.
If this is conservatism, then a lot more of us are soon going to be rid of it.
Reg Henry: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1668. First Published October 8, 2013 8:00 PM