Having twice failed to defeat Barack Obama and having repeatedly failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the president's signature achievement and the most sweeping social reform since LBJ's Great Society initiatives in the 1960s, the extreme right wing of the Republican Party has engineered a bloodless coup in which a comparatively small handful of hateful zealots have shut down the federal government.
While this New York Times story, the most important piece of journalism to appear anywhere in years, stops short of calling the shutdown the result of a coup, it is exactly that: These zealots have not merely ransomed the federal government, throwing hundreds of thousands and people out of work and possibly triggering a debt crisis that would have global implications, making the recent recession child's play, they also have imposed their most narrow of political goals, which is to say their wealthy self interests, at the expense of individual rights.
In this case that is having greater access to health care. Heaven forbid that ordinary people be empowered! And so much for love of country.
What makes this coup additionally outrageous is that political leaders present and past with a conscience and sense of history are not speaking out.
How is it that former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton could forge a non-partisan alliance in the wake of the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami but they and their peers, for the most part, seem struck deaf and dumb about a homegrown catastrophe that threatens the core values of our democracy?
Is it simply cowardice or have we become so inured to the cancerous effects of hyper-partisan politics that what once had been unthinkable -- a very few who in effect have become a shadow government controlling the lives of the vast majority -- has become the new normal?
Who do we look to for salvation? If not our so-called leaders, then certainly not a Supreme Court that greased the skids making the coup possible in the first place because of its Citizens United ruling.
Yessiree, it's the birth of a new era in American politics.
If the NRA's thoroughly successful effort to cow a Congress contemplating meaningful gun control laws through intimidation and fear mongering in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was Old Style politics at its most insidious, then the government shutdown coup surely heralds an era of New Style politics that, if possible, is even more insidious.
Oh, and while we're throwing around powerfully loaded words like coup, let's toss in another couple: Despot and Treason. Because the Koch Brothers and their ilk are despots and what they have done is treasonous.