Sometimes you don’t realize the consequences of your own actions until it is too late.
This is the message of Orson Scott Card’s classic 1985 science fiction novel and soon-to-be movie, Ender’s Game, which follows a six-year old child prodigy named Ender Wiggin as he is hand-selected as humanity’s savior. Due to his advanced intelligence, Ender is chosen and eventually groomed by a military council and unwittingly becomes a pawn in what ends up being an interplanetary conflict. By the end of the novel, the mission has been accomplished but young protagonist Ender is left jarred and shaken by his experience and the realization that what he was doing wasn’t a game after all. It was, in fact, all real.
Fast forward twenty-eight years to today’s Tea Party branch of the Republican Party. Much like young Ender, the Tea Party members were also hand-selected by the powers that be. However, instead of a military council putting them into power, the Tea Partiers were put into power by Dick Armey, the Koch brothers, and other behind-the-scenes wealthy Republican plutocrats. Much like Ender, the Tea Partiers have become unwilling pawns in a major conflict where they have been set on a course with a singular goal in mind. And, exactly like Ender, in reaching their ultimate goal they created untold amounts of destruction in their wake and never once stopped to consider what it was exactly that they were doing.
As we now stand two weeks into the Republican government shutdown of 2013, the Tea Partiers are officially in full Ender meltdown mode. They are in the process of blowing up the Republican Party from the inside out. President Obama has refused to cave on any temporary raising of the debt ceiling and his approval rating is gradually increasing. Republicans approval numbers are the lowest they have ever been and they are now less popular than dog poop as Alan Grayson so accurately explained. Papa Bill O’Riley is telling the Republican Party to stop damaging their brand. Big Business including the Koch Brothers have turned on the Republican Party. Even Lyin’ Paul Ryan has come out of the woodwork to express an interest in some kind of way to end the shutdown. Support for the Affordable Care Act is now at an all-time high and calls to repeal the law and finally falling on deaf ears.
In Ender’s Game, the reader at least feels some sympathy for the way poor Ender was used and taken advantage of. For today’s Tea Partiers, there can be no sympathy. These are people who willing (and often illegally) took money from big business to run their campaigns. They ran on a platform of jobs in the 2010 midterm elections and yet have not offered a single jobs bill in the past four years. They openly hate government and yet chose to become elected government officials. They refuse to acknowledge that their home districts have any of the following: minorities, disabled veterans, homosexuals, hungry children, underpaid workers, and women. The “Crazy Train” Tea Partiers were well aware that running for government would give them a platform to express their own backwards, cynical views regardless of who their constituents were or what they believed. All they cared about was getting elected to Congress and to destroy it once there.
For Dick Armey and the Koch Brothers, it initially was a perfect match. Get a bunch of soulless automatrons to do their bidding without coming out from behind the curtain. We can thank Citizens United for that one as hundreds of thousands of dollars began being mysteriously funneled to these candidates. All the candidates had to do was memorize a basic stump speech and appear of Fox News as often as possible. Even if you were Michelle Bachman and didn’t know anything about anything, all the major news outlets would eventually stop fact-checking you. All the candidates had to do was be good enough to get elected in their gerrymandered districts. Once they were elected it was then that they could implement their destruction on the world.
And unleash it, they have. In the past four years no major pieces of legislation have gone through Congress. The party of no has earned this monicker thanks to the Tea Party members of the House of Representatives. The only thing this governing body has voted for has been the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Forty-two times. Much like Ender, the Tea Partiers had their sights set on the ultimate goal of taking down the American government. They had discussed in constantly since the 2010 midterm elections. At every impasse, the threat of a government shutdown was a possibility. Finally on October 1st, the Tea Party got to raise its mission accomplished banner over the capitol building in Washington, D.C.
And yet, despite reaching its goal, the Tea Party Enders now are in utter disbelief about how it happened. What do you mean people will blame us for the shutdown? What do you mean our approval rating will suffer? What do you mean Fox News won’t be all warm and cuddly to us during interviews? What do you mean our key voting bloc of veterans might be angry at us? What do you mean our own party will turn against us? What do you mean the President won’t give into our demands? What do you mean this whole thing might have been a bad idea?
As the Tea Partiers face their Ender moment, they must finally realize that they had no end game in mind. They have been knowingly used by billionaires to destroy the United States government for their own political gain. Now, for the first time, a national audience has seen through them and their absurd governing philosophy. The Tea Party’s own leaders have failed to provide them with any vision whatsoever moving forward. Their financial backers are slowly diverting resources elsewhere. They are facing huge backlashes in their home districts. All this is going despite the fact that they did everything that was asked of them. Just like Ender Wiggin in Ender’s Game, they wonder how and why this could happen to them.
They would have known the answer all along if they had just been paying attention.