Newly Discovered and Unknown
You never know what you’re going to find in church. Which is probably what has given fundamentalists so much sway over the population. It is possible in the Bible to find both reason for and reason against nearly anything one can imagine.
Readers have always been fond of Revelations and its so-called coded messages for the future. But ah-hah moments occur all the way through both Old and New testaments.
Watching earlier this week the homecoming of Senator Ted Cruz in San Antonio, complete with its eight minute standing ovation, made us revisit last Sunday’s second lesson from the Epistles of Timothy, verses 3:14 to 4:5.
“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.”
We love having itching ears. We’re wild for not putting up with sound doctrine. We’re positively in love with accumulating teachers to suit our own desires. Of course, the capstone of this passage delights us as well. “Turning away from listening to the truth and wandering away towards myths.”
Heretofore we would not have held that the Bible should be taken literally. And it’s still too big a stretch for us. But you have to wonder and admire a writer with enough savvy and experience to point out how an ancient moment of truth can become a continuing moment of truth.
As listeners and readers already know, we are not crazy for Ted Cruz. We put him on our watch-list the night he made his acceptance speech. We were not so alarmed by other Tea Partiers whose speeches might also have been shown that night, because this one alone, it seemed to us, was a perfect moment of untruth, ideology, misinformation, and nakedly blind ambition that rested not on any accomplishments or even any accomplishment promised in the future, but instead on air.
This was a speech from our not-so-glorious past, with its echoes of bigotry, suspicion, and fear. Small wonder that months later Mr. Cruz decided his avatar of Senatorial value was Strom Thurmond, a one-time Dixiecrat with a record on integration that would shame most middle-of-the-road voters regardless of party.
And a few months before that, during Senate hearings to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, Mr. Cruz had performed a nearly word-perfect imitation of the late Senator and scourge, Joseph McCarthy, over an imaginary sum of money Cruz speculated might have been given to Hagel by an outside force. There was no money offered. Nor any quid pro quo. What Cruz railed about was the possibility in his own mind that something MIGHT have taken place that did not. He was free to bully not only Hagel himself but other Senators on his committee mercilessly, all on the basis of a scenario that simply did not exist.
Regardless of how he might be excoriated by some members of his own party in the senate, and by most editorial boards, his Texas electorate seems enchanted by him, eager to believe anything he says as well as anything he imagines saying in the future. This guy promised nothing but obstruction to his voters, and that apparently is what they want, by a three to one margin. Few if any apparently understand the irony of using the electoral process to abolish a government based for more than two hundred years on that process alone. They have itchy ears.
And Cruz is the would-be prince of Denmark ready to pour poison into those ears. But he’s luckier than Hamlet was. Cruz seems to have no decisions at all to make, whether to be or not, because quite simply HE IS.
Here’s a man fashioned purposely to suiting the desires of others.
So what do dissenting Republicans do to save their party from this Teutonic automaton?
They have got to come up with POSITIVE approaches to governing. It will never be enough for them to criticize and just say no. If the Healthcare bill has to be revised, repealed, defunded, what are the Republicans offering in its place? In particular what is Paul Ryan going to offer in January? It can’t be medical savings accounts. We’ve done that. It can’t be vouchers for Medicare. We’ve done that, too.
We don’t think it can be more money for the Defense Department either. Voters throughout the country are too alerted to the needs we have right here on the mainland.
It can’t be a budget of austerity, as that has proven (we believe) to many that what this approach brings with it is a slowing of the growth of GDP, a drop in consumer confidence, and massive loss of jobs.
It can’t be more anti-abortion legislation. The Republicans are so far behind in the gender gap that anything touching this third rail will redound badly.
The Afghan war is already, we hope, winding down. They’re not going to get on that bandwagon.
It can’t be sending arms to Syria rebels, since we still don’t know who they are or what the eventual disposition of these arms will be.
It might be a throwback to the Cold War, where targets of our displeasure are Russia and China. This plays well with older Republicans, but we’re not sure how well it plays to youth.
In a nutshell, the Republicans have only one approach between now and 2014, perhaps even until 2016. They have to make nice. If they hope to govern the nation, they have to demonstrate that they can do exactly that by compromising with the Democrats (there goes the Tea Party) and working in a bipartisan fashion for sensible, low key, inexpensive tinkering around the edges of Democratic bills.
They may even have to be nicer to the President, which will delight Democrats although it might cause Obama serious internal injuries of surprise.
They will have to approve political appointees and judges. And the word “filibuster” dare not escape from their lips.
Most especially, they have to be FOR something worthwhile rather than criticizing everything as dead on arrival.
None of this is going to be easy. Many members of the Senate fear challenges from their right. All members of the House are pretending to run scared, despite so many being gerrymandered into safe seats. It’s not good to appear too confident. “Making nice” opens both groups to the charges and suspicions of the putative Republican Little Caesar, Mr. Cruz, and his cohorts behind him.
But if we are to regain our international position of importance, value, strength and morality, we can’t endure more government closures, or worse yet pitched battles over the debt ceiling in February. Nor, tangentially, can we endure too many more of Mr.Snowden’s exposures.
But in today’s atmosphere, what should happen if two new bills come to the floor of either the House or the Senate: immigration, and tax reform?
On the first, Mr. Cruz and company will be death, fearful of understanding how the nation has been and is changing demographically. This is no longer a country with a white majority, and while that is frightening to millions of otherwise well-meaning citizens, Mr.Cruz and company will make certain it becomes even more flammable.
On the second, having fought tax increases on the wealthy for most of their lives, Republicans cannot now sway and bend in the wind without ceasing to be the true Republican party people know and love. And still receive financing while being attacked for being successful.
The eviscerating of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court has opened doors to the hottest place down below, as states rush in to rewrite their qualifications for voter I.D.s. This followed the wondrous Citizens United decision which opened the floodgates to billionaires and industry to buy votes whenever and however they can. And the final nail in this coffin belongs to the newly argued McCutchen case which seeks, as always, on the basis of Free Speech, to allow people to give to however many campaigns however much money they have. McCutcheon imagines he will be able to buy perhaps an entire Senate or House committee by spreading unlimited funds from one post office intake to another.
One thing seems clear to us. It is going to take the United States of America years of “redoing” to get back to where we were post World War II, when the Marshall Plan installed us as helpmeets of the very best and dependable kind. To those too young to remember, this was before the Cold War, before the Korean conflict, before Viet Nam. Even before Medicare. Members of both houses understood that in order to fashion a newly war-free world, our country needed to provide aid and assistance of all kinds, at home and abroad. And in order to do his, they had to work together.
One problem we seem to face right now is that neither Congress nor the Supreme Court is willing to examine the past and to learn from it. Nor incidentally is the public. What this means is that we are a rudderless ship adrift in a sea newly discovered and unknown.
And it is getting pretty lonely out there in those uncertain currents.