The tea party faction of the Republican Party is applying the naïve time-tested party principle: If you want to gain attention, get drunk and wear a lampshade as a hat. This tactic works, but in real life if you want to be respected, in serious matters at least, omit the lampshade.
Texas’ junior Sen. Ted Cruz has taken this principle one step further, figuratively stripping to his underwear while assuming the lampshade would avert everyone’s attention. Yes, yes, you got our attention, but nothing else. Oh Lord, only we can save ourselves from the fruitless antics of our own great fools.
Members of the 2013 Republican Party, and especially its newbie tea party faction, fecklessly undertook an elaborate and exotic display of “bad cop, good cop” for the entire world to see. They verbally whizzed from one extortionist position to another, ducking, gyrating and eventually exhausting every nonsense option available in order to save face when the power-drunkenness wore off. Then a large majority of decent people spoke up and the Republican ploys ended.
What is most astonishing about the haphazard nature of the Tea-Republican Party is the stunningly adverse effect its useless maneuvers have on the bedrock interests of the United States, and especially our stature in the world as master of the world’s reserve currency, the dollar.
Almost three years ago, in very early 2011 during budget hearings involving a possible congressional refusal to raise the debt ceiling, MIT Sloan Management School Professor Simon Johnson publicly told Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn.: “The Chinese are working very hard to create alternative reserve assets in the renminbi.” Nothing has changed.
Johnson went on to warn: “I really don’t think that you want to create potential disruptions of this kind [by failing to raise the debt ceiling], because there is nothing that says that the dollar has to be the No. 1 reserve asset forever. And the British pound lost this position earlier in the 20th century exactly through fiscal irresponsibility and global overreach.”
In October 2013 Tea-Republicans once again forced the United States to revisit this topic as a means for gaining political leverage, even as they actually inflicted grave long-term harm on America and its interests by signaling to the world that it is likely a day will come when our bills will not be paid and our political obligations will go unmet, even if only as a political stunt.
The recurring debate over the debt ceiling has widened the opening offered to China in its plans. Indeed, during the past three years the Chinese government has initiated critical steps to shift away from the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Until recently, nearly all oil purchases or transactions were settled in dollars, something that has served the United States and its interests mightily for decades, as worldwide demand for dollars went hand-in-hand with demand for oil.
However, it is reported that Russia and China started to transact oil sales in currencies other than the dollar, notably with Iran and Venezuela in September 2012. Likewise, reports indicate that Russia will provide China as much oil as they wish to buy and payment would not be made in U.S. dollars. They have the system in place and now it can grow.
It appears the tea party faction of the Republican Party in Congress is also bolstering systematic Chinese efforts to substitute another currency for the dollar by repeatedly signaling a willingness to undermine the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
Moreover, in matters military, nations in the Pacific Rim are beginning to question the ability of the United States to stand with them, especially given the erratic and bizarre nature of statements from tea party Republicans concerning what does and does not matter to the United States. In a world of large choices, every word counts.
Cavalier comments made by individuals whose entire political experience is nothing but a few years in Congress are harming the national security of the United States and making aggressive political realignment more likely.
The newly emerging notion that America will maybe fulfill its obligations is understandably giving leaders elsewhere grave concern, opening another avenue for expansionist efforts by China. Making nice with the Chinese may seem like a wise strategy if your U.S. benefactor is looking politically tired and internally confused.
In the meantime, China is efficiently and busily buying oil-sand operations in Canada, agricultural land in Africa, and seeking resource purchases in the United States and elsewhere, not to mention integrating vast amounts of wind and solar energy into their domestic energy portfolio, raising large cities, expanding science and industry, and manufacturing everything imaginable.
As our leaders manufacture little but hype, pointless congressional confusion and extreme antics, the Chinese are moving closer to victory in a massive game of Monopoly.
Coffey is an attorney based in San Diego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may be published as Letters to the Editor.