EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 20, 2013

Column: There’s nothing left to do but charge the windmills

Barbara Anderson
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Quixotic (adj.) — From the classic literary character Don Quixote, it means to pursue ideals without any thought to practicality.

Over the years people have suggested I run for political office; maybe this will help them understand why I just don’t have a vocation for “politician.”

If I’d successfully run for Congress as a tea party candidate, pledged to fight the ongoing increases in the national debt, that’s what I’d have been doing this week. If I were in the United States Senate, I’d have been standing with Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul against a budget that funds yet another giant entitlement program we can’t afford without massive borrowing.

I might have had doubts about the strategy. It would be hard to be estranged from favorite columnists like Charles Krauthammer and taxpayer leaders like Grover Norquist, who think the Cruz faction of the Republican Party was wrong to allow part of the government to shut down because they wouldn’t give in on defunding Obamacare. One of my local political gurus calls it quixotic.

I wouldn’t want to be called “quixotic.” I’ve read Cervantes’ book, seen the movie, listened to the soundtrack, and realize that Don Quixote was nuts, wearing a shaving bowl for a helmet and tilting at windmills he imagined were giants.

And yet: I remember Don Quixote as inspirational. I’m probably not the only one here who has sung “The Impossible Dream” to ourselves as we were fighting some unbeatable foe, in my case in the political arena.

According to Wikipedia: “When it was first published, Don Quixote was usually interpreted as a comic novel. After the French Revolution it was popular in part due to its central ethic that individuals can be right while society is quite wrong. (Later) many critics came to view the work as a tragedy in which Don Quixote’s innate idealism and nobility are viewed by the world as insane, and are defeated and rendered useless by common reality.”

Perhaps someone should be writing a tragic sequel for our time, because it’s the world and common reality that are insane. Without innate idealism, what happens to us?

We’re told that there was never a chance that Republicans could defund Obamacare. But at least the voters, if they ever realize how bad it is, will know which party tried to stop it. Anyone paying attention knows that Republicans were willing to compromise by just delaying the individual mandate as Obama delayed the business mandate, while giving exemptions to his politically allied groups and to Congress.

Moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, offered a plan to reopen the government, prevent a default, start negotiations on the national debt, and maintain the 2011 agreement to reduce Washington spending. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to discuss it, instead adding a demand that the 2011 agreement be violated in order to increase spending even more.

Democrats, in pure partisanship lockstep, wouldn’t negotiate — until this intransigence became obvious to even casual observers. Eventually, the Senate and House both voted for a “short-term deal” to just get the government functioning (if that is the word) and the debt ceiling raised for a few months. I’m glad I’m not a politician who always has to push the battle down the road because we can’t do our job and be deciders.

Because polls show Republicans being blamed for the partial government shutdown, it’s been in the cynical interest of Democrats to make sure they wring the last drop of pain from the issue. Incredibly, Obama tried to block elderly veterans from visiting the World War II Memorial, while opening up the Mall to illegal immigrants rallying for amnesty. Tourists visiting Yellowstone Park were kept away from Old Faithful, though it erupts without government help. Childish behavior from the most immature president in our history, backed up by the entire Democratic machine, is allowed by the people who don’t want to admit his re-election was a mistake.

Yet voters think Republicans, who are fighting to keep the country solvent, resisting letting the incompetent federal government take over our health care, and trying to stop the runaway national debt, are the bad guys? If the tea party legislators didn’t exist, we wouldn’t even know we have these problems we need to resist. By standing up and fighting, they kept some of us informed, and will perhaps eventually wake up enough of the others who live with the illusion that giant government is merely a harmless windmill.

Republican moderates scold these patriot politicians for picking the wrong battle, insist they should have waited to take a stand on the debt ceiling. But Obama and the Democrats aren’t going to ever get the debt under control; Republicans will be attacked for endangering the national if not the world economy if they don’t give in and borrow more, forever.

What if the polls show voters blame Republicans for resisting raising the debt ceiling too? Will the moderates roll over until the national debt reaches 100 percent of GDP?

If I were in the Senate, I’d stand with Rand, drink tea with Lee, and if necessary, lose with Cruz. Because my country is in so much trouble, so much debt, with such bad management, that there’s nothing to do but grab some kind of helmet and charge the giant.

Barbara Anderson is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a regular contributor to the opinion pages.