Watching the happenings in Washington D.C. lately, I have an eerie feeling like I am living through the opening premise of a post-apocalyptic novel. If I were a better writer, I think I'd take the scenario and follow it through in an imaginary world. As it is, I'm stuck watching it unfold in slow motion, in the real world.
I should probably stop reading the left-leaning press on this issue, because articles like the recent ones in Salon arguing that right-wing ideologues have staged a sort of bloodless coup and that the Civil War never really ended are not helping my state of mind. I do not want to live in a liberal echo chamber anymore than I think the folks who get all their news from Fox should live in that echo chamber of crazy. Back after the last election, I made a conscious effort to add some non-crazy Republican voices to my Twitter feed, but (1) they are getting harder to find and (2) even they are a bit alarming these days.
Luckily, Scalzi (who has the dubious distinction of having Boehner as a representative) has an analysis of the situation that is a bit less frothy, although doesn't make his representative look that good.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing I have read about the shutdown was from Jonathan Chait, who characterizes this as an incipient Constitutional crisis. That is a genuinely scary thing. I finished reading that story and could almost see the back story of a Paolo Bacigalupi novel, in which America devolves into gridlock and then factional fighting and then splinters into regional fiefdoms after a Consitutional crisis that we cannot find a way to solve. And then bad things happen and we end up in a dystopian future in which Bangkok is flooded and genetic engineering is used as a weapon of corporate warfare. Or something like that.
Ah well, the signs from Washington are that we'll step back from the brink. This time. But can the sane among us find the will and political wherewithal to fix the underlying problems? Can we set aside our not at all minor policy differences to fix the structural issues of gerrymandering and overimportance of money in our elections? I genuinely do not know. I do think, however, that if we can't do that, we'll face this doomsday scenario over and over again until either we muster the will to fix the structural problems or one of the crazies drives us over a cliff.
Luckily, Elizabeth Warren gives me hope.
And this thread on github makes me laugh at it all.