With a genial rictus over his plasticine jaw, Ted Cruz marches his party into oblivion

holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.

I first heard of Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz in an article dredged up from the far-right cesspool RedState. At the time, early 2012, said article was encouraging its non-copos mentis readership to pull for the then little-known Rethuglican to beat his only slightly less-humantistically appalling opponent, David Dewhurst, from winning their primary for Texas’ vacant senate seat. Cruz fought his opponent into a runoff, and then won.

Fast-forward eighteen months later: Senator Cruz fake-filibusters for 21 hours about how Obamacare is evil and the Republic is doomed and grotesquely misinterprets Green Eggs and Ham into an anti-health insurance parable and oh my god Ted Cruz is a cancerous asshat who I’d add to this aborted series if I weren’t so lazy.

There is a little-known rule that says the Speaker of the House of Representatives need not be an elected congressman. I don’t believe it’s ever actually been put into practice, but, technically, the House leader needn’t be a House member. Technically, this is still so. Realistically, Speaker Cruz is now running shit. Between his public grandstanding and behind the scenes cajoling, this freshman senator, this McCarthy-redux, this unbearably pompous, inconceivably obtuse, remarkably radical rotting husk of flesh and few bones is, in effect, running the People’s House.

Government shutdown? Him. More than anyone else, even amongst his demented peers, him.

This is what conservatism has been dumbed down to? The word ‘conservative’ brings to mind patience and prudence, a thoughtful “Let’s think things through here for a sec” check on the progressive drive for immediate improvement. To be conservative is to cautiously adapt to the times, not refuse to acknowledge them; to sensibly facilitate change, not stymie it. When Cruz and Co. couch their rhetoric in the abstractions of “entitlements” and “big government” they are railing against specific, beneficial programs that have been part of this country’s terra firma for decades. If you want to destroy or fundamentally alter Social Security (Cruz: it’s a “Ponzi scheme”) and Medicare (Cruz: voucherize it, like clipping coupons for groceries) etc. then you are not, under any fair definition of the word, conservative – you are a radical, seeking to upend longstanding societal norms in the name of an uncompromising ideology. You are also a mean-spirited asshole.

And for what is this Pied Piper of Pablum leading his lemmings over the edge, for what “conservative” goal is he working toward? To force the entire federal government to bow to the wishes of a select few dolts and dunderers, to sabotage a law that, whatever its growing pains, was campaigned on by a presidential candidate, passed by a majority of the House and a supermajority of the Senate, upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, and then relitigated in a second presidential election. How many times and ways must a law be ratified before it becomes, you know, a fucking law? How many times and ways must the Grand Obstructionist Party be repudiated by the majority of voters before it concedes to the wishes not of Democrats, but of the democratic system of government? How many people must die or go bankrupt due to lack of health insurance before GOP plutocrats deign to give a shit? How many dickslaps can Ted Cruz take before his face falls the rest of the way off?

And the thing is, even on the batshit side it’s accepted that this unnecessary shutdown that Senator Stupid has megaminded is ultimately a loser for his party. There are many liberal-minded people like myself who are fine with it; They wanna shoot themselves, let them, so the thinking goes.

While this sort of thinking is temptingly cathartic, it’s just plain wrong. The whole idea of long-term political consequences being the sole arbiter of which policy one should pursue is a coldly abstract stance that belies the immediate personal, humane consequences that are wrought by the Ted Cruz’s of the world lighting their own fuses on fire. A group of kamikazes don’t just blow themselves up in a vacuum; they make sure they’re right in the thick of things. Hundreds of thousands of people are, as of last night, unsure when their next paychecks will be arriving. This is reality. This is what the real-world consequences are when one recalcitrant party follows the lead of one nasty demagogue as he joyfully parades them off a cliff.

So yeah, the longer this goes on, the more damaging it will be for the GOP. But morally-conscious people should take the high road here, and hope the shutdown ends sooner rather than later. The Republican party is out of ideas, out of voters, and out of time. They are on a voluntary death march, and while I’m all for accelerating their doom, we shouldn’t do so at the expense of peoples’ livelihoods. We’re not uncaring. We’re not assholes.

We’re not Ted Cruz.