Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I fight, therefore I am

The philosopher Descartes famously wrote "I think, therefore I am."  He was trying to prove that he existed, philosophically, and he decided that the very fact that he was thinking about whether or not he existed was proof that he existed.  Another way of understanding Descartes' statement might be that he thought he was a really smart guy, and he identified himself with his brain and he was saying that the basis of his existence, or rather the basis of his value, was his ability to think.  (This is kind of a pop-psychological explanation of Descartes' statement)

Today's Tea Party Republicans seem to have a different way of identifying themselves.  Their motto seems to be "I fight, therefore I am."  They seem to identify themselves as fighters, as really tough Real Men, and get their value and meaning from their pugnacity.  

Ted Cruz is apparently thinking that he will filibuster the raising of the debt ceiling that was just passed cleanly by the House of Representatives.  This is pretty silly, it seems to me, for a few reasons.

First, if he doesn't filibuster, the Senate can cleanly pass a raising of the debt limit with a simple majority vote - that is, one that needs only Democratic votes.  If Cruz filibusters, then 60 votes rather than 51 are needed, and some Republicans will have to vote for the bill - which they will, but I doubt that they will thank the pugnacious Cruz for the situation he put them in.

Second, this is just another campaign stunt by Cruz which is symbolic only. This bill will pass, no question about it, and the filibuster will have no effect except give Cruz a headline he can use for his 2016 presidential campaign.  Always nice to waste the time of the Senate for your own campaign stunts.  I doubt many in the Senate will thank him for that either.

Third, it seems that most Republicans understand that they are hurting themselves by refusing to pay our country's debts by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.  Except for the Tea Party mix of libertarians and social conservatives who seem to think that refusing to pay our debts is a noble way to blackmail the rest of the country into cutting as many humanitarian programs as possible and thus forcing everybody to become as rough and tough and independent as they imagine themselves to be.  

Perhaps Cruz will relent and just wanted a headline to endear him to the hard right base.  But, the underlying question remains why does the Tea Party deliberately pick fights it can't win?

I believe it is because, as I have written often, the hard right wing of the Republican Party see themselves as hyper-masculine, super tough, Real Men, who Take No Prisoners, never give an inch, and fight, fight, fight to the bitter, and oh so brave end.  

In other words. They get their value from being tough.  Or, they get their value from fighting, and at least on a subconscious level they say to themselves "I fight, therefore I am."

They could use a little brains to mix with their pugnacity, it seems to me.  Mr. Cruz gets a lot of credit for brains, but all of his brainpower seems to be directed toward fighting, not governing, which demands cooperation and compromise - anathemas to the I Fight Therefore I am crowd.