The Republican Party and the Samson Option

Andrew Sullivan wrote the following yesterday:

Today we discovered just how radical the House GOP is: threatening to blow up the entire faith and credit of the country in order, among other things, to build the Keystone Pipeline and effectively nullify the last election. Between the risible Cruz and this gob-smacking ransom note to the country, is our system of government grinding to a halt? One reader said it reminded him of 1860.

1860, indeed. I think what we’re witnessing is the death spiral of the Republican Party as we know it today. “The broken wheel squeaks the loudest.” It will not be–cannot be–the same party ten years from now. Its next phase will be Reconstruction.

But perhaps a Cold War analogy is better. President Obama and a future Democratic president–probably Hillary–will simply have to wait out the craziness with patience. The natural instabilities within the Republican Party will assert themselves over time (electorally, geographically, and demographically). In just a few more tumultuous election cycles, it will be obvious to all that the Republican Party is ideologically and electorally hobbled and needs to moderate itself. In the meantime, there will be wreckage, and it will get worse before it gets better.

Maybe the best analogy is Samson bringing the temple down on his head. There are a lot of Republicans right now who are in the grip of fanaticism, and fanatics do idiotic things (like default on the national debt in the name of “principle”–an economic nuclear option). This means Barack Obama has in the Republican Party a domestic Cuban Missile Crisis.

Robert McNamara once asked Castro what he advised Khrushchev to do with the nuclear weapons in Cuba if the US attempted to destroy them. His answer: launch them. In other words, it’s the “Samson option;” it’s ideology wrapped up with thanatos, a secret desire for universal death; for apocalypse. That’s how fanatics think.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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