What is this compulsion of the GOP Congress? Why do they drive off a cliff like Thelma and Louise, laughing and back patting in the Rose Garden while the people bleed from what they do? What happened to the Republican Man of Action, the sharp business no nonsense Republican who steered the fickle emotional Democrats toward good rational government. The Republican has embodied the myth of the Western Cowboy who comes in and saves society (the town over run by thugs or war between rancher and farmers). Reagan was the great personification of this myth, the Singing Cowboy.
What does Shane or John Wayne do when he is afraid to wear his gun? Oh…the Shame of Shane. When the situation is ambiguous, what do you do? Why…you just draw your gun and shoot something, anything is better than not drawing your gun. Losing face is losing power.
If we want to make sense out of our current history we need to understand American Mythology. While the themes are universal and not unique, American Mythology has its own unique flavor. The nation we believe was built on heroic individuals. American mythology is the myth of the Hero, the savior who is untamed, who lives in the wilderness and has not been contaminated and emasculated by civilization and the intellectual elites.
As the “wild place” are reduced to small national parks which are also regulated and civilized, as urban sprawl lays asphalt over forest, our Cowboy of the open ranges is now an Urban Cowboy, pure mythology. This American Myth fits into the Southern Mythology of a people who revolted against the slavery of the Pharos of the North. The GOP merges these two mythos of the Heroic Individual and the Heroic People who will die for the Lost Cause. The GOP is a romantic party.
Romanticism and Idealism go together in opposition to realism and relativism. Romanticism is a quest for meaning in a meaningless world. Don Quixote, the last knight who kills mighty dragons that turn our to be wind mills, comes to my mind. The South was like an age of Chivalry where noble men fought duels under the great oak trees hanging with Spanish moss. Honor was everything.
So why did the GOP vote for a bad bill? Honor. They could not stand the thought of hesitating to pull their gun of power and shoot that bad guy. Unfortunately, the bad guy was a wind mill, our own government.