In the wake of the almost apocalyptic meltdown of the United States government, Andrew Sullivan attempts to understand the psychology behind the extremist faction of the Republican Party that held the country to ransom over extending health care to poor people:
They [the Tea Party] want truths that ring without any timbre of doubt. They want root-and-branch reform – to the days of the American Revolution. And they want all of this as a pre-packaged ideology, preferably aligned with re-written American history, and reiterated as a theater of comfort and nostalgia. They want their presidents white and their budget balancednow. That balancing it now would tip the whole world into a second depression sounds like elite cant to them; that America is, as a matter of fact, a coffee-colored country – and stronger for it – does not remove their desire for it not to be so; indeed it intensifies their futile effort to stop immigration reform. And given the apocalyptic nature of their view of what is going on, it is only natural that they would seek a totalist, radical, revolutionary halt to all of it, even if it creates economic chaos, even if it destroys millions of jobs, even though it keeps millions in immigration limbo, even if it means an unprecedented default on the debt.
This is a religion – but a particularly modern, extreme and unthinking fundamentalist religion. And such a form of religion is the antithesis of the mainline Protestantism that once dominated the Republican party as well, to a lesser extent, the Democratic party.
There's no doubt that the Tea Party presents a very serious threat to America's stability - and it must be defeated if the country wants to function as a normal industrialized democracy. But how do you counter an ideology that has taken on the characteristics of a fundamentalist religion? Comments below...