Allow me to offer a theory about the recent bizarre behaviour of the Republican Party in the U.S. Congress.
All countries have a substantial ultraconservative component of their political spectrum. But not often in a democracy does that component take over the agenda of a major political party and threaten to bring the government down if it doesn't get what it wants, rather like a gang of two-year-olds collectively holding their breath and kicking their heels. Why this happened in a nation long considered a responsible democracy is a result perhaps of political passion aggravated by that country's nemesis—racism.
At the end of the Second World War, straight white American males ruled the nation. They were "the Man." They owned pretty well everything and dominated pretty well everything. They sat at the head of the table and, damn, they owned the table. Everyone else knew their place and it was second place, or third.
And then things began to come apart. Women demanded an equal place at the table. As did blacks who were insisting that phrase in the Declaration of Independence about all men being equal should be taken seriously. Homosexuals no longer found the closet agreeable and emerged, flaunting their pride in the streets with, dare I say it, gay abandon. And if all this impertinence wasn't bad enough, whites were shrinking toward minority status as Hispanics expanded their numbers. Most straight white males accepted the changes with grace but others didn't, wouldn't, just couldn't, and they retreated into a smoldering anger. Their country, it seemed, was being stolen from them bit by bit.
At one time, red-blooded American males knew how to deal with uppity blacks—they lynched them. Unfortunately, that is simply no longer on. But if those red-blooded Congressmen can no longer bring out the bedsheets and the lynch rope, they can still focus remarkable energy and passion on destroying the uppity black president politically.
They will not, I think, succeed. Even their Republican colleagues are tiring of their juvenile shenanigans. As are the American people at large.
But deny them not their last hurrah. They are losing their country. Women increasingly seek positions of power, blacks aren't returning to the back of the bus, gays are getting married, and Hispanics are now the nation’s largest minority group and among its fastest growing populations. White numbers are shrinking, predicted to be a minority by mid-century. A new America is emerging, and the Man is having a tantrum.
Anyway, that's my theory. Not particularly original and perhaps a bit over the top, but not as over the top as the antics in the U.S. Congress over the past few weeks.