Young: Comparing two insurgencies
June 19, 2014
They have set their sights on the capital. And by now, who would doubt their designs?
Key districts are in their clutches. Their latest stunning victory causes jaws to drop. But why the surprise? God is on their side. Infidels, prepare to fall.
Believe what they say as they pull down the statue of Eric Cantor.
If readers thought the above description had something to do with the insurgency inflaming Iraq, that's understandable, because of the loose parallels between the two uprisings.
Ethnically the tea party is far more similar to gathering of lutefisk fanciers than to the richly diverse nation it portends to lead.
What the tea party offers for the United States sounds very much like what the ISIS, the force making tracks to Baghdad, seeks to do over there. Divide. Fracture. Cripple. That is, if it can't rule.
A harsh assessment? Please. What else could be the tea party's vow but this: Be sand in the gears of a nation that dares to become inclusive, compassionate and — yes — unified amid all its differences.
When the United States invaded Iraq, some analysts warned that it could result in not one but three countries, with the Kurds splitting away, and with Sunnis and Shiites parting ways, each in separate protectorates. Most assuredly, if the ISIS can't accomplish conquest of a unified Iraq, it gladly will take the alternative — an Iraq in pieces.
On these shores, when Barack Obama became president, the barkers of fragmentation and division, even outright secession, found their voices.
While actual secession was so much talk, the "let's split" dynamic assumed actual form when some states went to the Supreme Court to evade Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Suddenly the law of the land became the law only of some of it, or some of us.
Now we have the tea party aspiring and conspiring to take the "in" out of "one nation indivisible." Let's face it. Division is the only way it can ever hold whatever power it holds now.
It is a minority of a minority in Congress — The Associated Press estimates that it holds one-third of the House's seats — but looks to hold hostage any and all action anyway.
Don't accuse the tea party of being a one-trick pony. However, by taking down Cantor for fraternizing with the other side, it has found a special purpose. It has established itself as the NRA of immigration reform — ever vigilant to block even the most reasoned compromise.
True, the tea party doesn't troll dusty highways with assault weapons like the ISIS, or, say, Cliven Bundy's buddies, but for this group of patriotic Americans, the hard line can never be harder. Moderation isn't just a vice, it's the ultimate sin. For them, conciliation is (presumably like homosexuality) a communicable disease.
The tea party seeks to conquer, but politically it has a demographic problem. Ethnically it is far more similar to gathering of lutefisk fanciers than to the richly diverse nation it portends to lead. Of course, the same could be said for most GOP precinct meetings.
Thinking of the ethnically identified insurgents 6,000 miles away from Washington, there on the hot sands of Iraq: They may have occupied towns and villages, and staked a claim in Sunni-dominated parts of the country, but they cannot take the country. Mostly that's because they are a splinter group — well-armed, but not even close to being representative of the nation they seek to rule.
The same applies to the tea party. It may rule in regions where more diverse populations lie in hibernation or intimidation, but it can never aspire to represent a nation made up the way this one is. Leaders of the Republican Party, the ones who actually aspire to national leadership, understand this. They can count.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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