I have been trying to figure out the current Republican approach to government and it finally hit me. There is a peculiar mix of the theory of the Kamikaze pilot and the approach of the Nazi Party in the Reichstag pre-1933. Let me explain.
At the end of World War II Japan was in desperate conditions. They were expecting an amphibious assault on Japan itself from the USA, the Soviet Union was preparing to enter the war, and the Japanese were running very low on fuel. Out of this desperation emerged the Kamikaze, named after the “divine wind,” the typhoon that destroyed the Mongol invading fleet of Kublai Khan.
A Kamikaze fighter plane was only loaded with enough fuel to reach the target. There was no plan for their return. They were well armed and had plenty of explosives so that they could create maximum damage. Since the pilots never planned to return, their approach toward a target was different from most. They went straight through the anti-aircraft fire with their plane aimed at the target and…BOOM.
Part of what we have to understand about the approach that Republicans are taking toward government, and this is especially true of the Tea Party, is that they do not see themselves occupying positions of government for very long. Part of this flows from their hatred of government. Part of this may also be that they know the clock is ticking, given changes in the USA. But the other part is very shrewd. Their aim is to get through all the Washington ‘flack’ and create as much damage as they can. Since they are not worried about polls, they can dive straight in without much in the way of fear of ramifications. After all, they do not plan on hanging around. If they can damage government enough, and we should be clear that this means destroying everything that is left of the New Deal, then they have accomplished their mission. They have become part of the ‘divine wind.’
There is an equally disturbing part to this which we can learn from the 1930s. When the Nazi Party was able to achieve a critical mass of elected officials in the Reichstag (the German parliament), they had no intention of being respectable or constructive. In fact, they did everything they could to discredit not simply a particular political party, but to discredit elected government. By creating a situation where nothing could be accomplished, the Nazis fueled the popular frustration with the Weimar Republic and laid the foundation for the willingness of millions to embrace German fascism.
The antics of the Tea Party wing of the Republicans bear a striking resemblance to the approach of the Nazis. The point here is not to ascertain whether the Tea Party movement are closet Nazis (I actually do not think that they are, but they are right-wing populists) but more to point out that a second objective of that wing of the Republican Party is to discredit elected government. They are looking, as we can see in numerous states, for authoritarian or semi-authoritarian methods of governing. They are looking, despite their rhetoric, for restrictions on democratic rights and liberties, such as the right to join and form labor unions. We can see part of this in the increasingly repressive election laws that have been passed by Republican-dominated legislatures. Rather than expanding democracy, which was the clarion call for millions during most of the 20th century, they seek to restrict ‘democracy’ to those with means, or to those who this segment of the political Right believes to be deserving.
For these reasons, we should get away from thinking of the Tea Party elected officials as crazy. They are not. They are no more crazy than the Japanese Kamikaze pilots in 1945. They are just as determined and wish to create maximum damage. The Tea Party is no more crazy and rude than the Nazis in the early 1930s. Rather they are shrewd and manipulative and know how to play to the frustration of the public.
So, just as there was no compromise with either Kamikazes or Nazis, we must understand that there is no compromise with the Tea Party. They are not looking for compromise. In fact, they actually do not seem to care whether they blow themselves up in the process, as long as at the end of the day someone can say…the Tea Party won…
Bill Fletcher Jr.