Appearing on Luke Russert’s online MSNBC TV program, Shift, New York Congressman Peter King (R) slammed fellow House Republicans for not simply banding together to pass a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. King made it clear that he was fed up with Tea Party Republicans playing politics with Homeland Security funding. The New York Congressman declared: ”This madness has to end soon…I’ve had it with this self-righteous, delusional wing of the party.”
King lamented that may GOP members of Congress come from very conservative districts where they “live in an echo chamber”. He argued that those Republicans are so blinded by being anti-Obama, that they would rather put American lives at risk, than yield an inch to the President on immigration reform. While King announced that he, like his GOP colleagues, was not in favor of President Obama’s Executive Order on immigration, he noted that funding Homeland Security was more important than picking a fight with Obama over immigration policy.
King was adamant that funding Homeland Security was a matter of life and death, and that Republican actions endangered the country, by threatening to “take away our front lines against Islamic terrorism”. The New York Congressman chastised his fellow Republican lawmakers repeatedly, for putting American lives at risk.
In addition to arguing that the Tea Party wing of the GOP was foolishly playing with American lives, the Congressman also argued that their strategy made no sense politically, either. He likened Republican strategy, to the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War, and to Custer’s Last Stand. By comparing the Tea Party strategy to two exceedingly foolhardy military attacks, King was accusing his GOP colleagues of not only being morally wrong, but also of being flat out stupid.
In fairness to the Tea Party wing, Congressmen Peter King is prone to hawkishness on foreign policy, and his fear of Islamic terrorism at home, is often out of proportion to the actual threat. Nevertheless, King is on target with his criticism of his House GOP colleagues. Many of them dwell so much on anti-immigration sentiment, and anti-Obama fervor, that they have lost any sense of perspective for how to govern.
Fed by votes from xenophobic Obama-bashing zealots in deep red congressional districts, these Tea Party representatives have little incentive to govern. They simply can count on stoking the flames of right-wing rage, to propel their political careers, while they let the nation suffer from their collective inaction.
The Tea Party wing of the GOP puts Congressman Peter King in a quandary, because the Long Island swing district he represents, twice voted for Barack Obama for President, albeit narrowly. King has an incentive to govern, because he is in a district that could theoretically turn on him, and replace him with a Democrat in 2016. This is a concern that many of his fellow Republicans in Congress do not share.
Tea Party members who represent places like East Texas, the Ozarks, and the Kansas plains, are not only far removed from the sites of the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks, they are also far removed from any threat of being bounced out of office by a Democrat. Many of them are looking over their right shoulders at the threat of being ousted by a more extreme conservative in a GOP primary, but they don’t even have to glance to their left, ensconced as they are in completely safe red districts.
However, the bottom line should be, that on issues of national security, the primary concern on how to vote should not be dictated by political considerations. Instead, lawmakers should focus on what will best provide security for the American people. While we don’t have to agree with Peter King’s assessment of the terrorist threat, nor do we have to accept the notion that Homeland Security is the “be all and end all” for combating terrorism. However, King’s criticism of his fellow GOP lawmakers is a legitimate one. If they care about the security of our nation, they should stop playing politics with Homeland Security funding, and the self-righteous delusional wing of the Republican Party should step aside and let the Congress vote on a clean funding bill. Anything less, as Congressmen King said, is “madness” that must come to an end.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.