A lot of the senseless discussion, and there has been a lot of senseless discussion recently, has been about avoiding the question of whether this crisis has been ‘ransom’ or ‘negotiation’. One side calls it one thing. The other side calls it the other thing. It can’t be both, but we discuss it like maybe it is both. Senselessly. If there were a legislative ceiling on senseless discussion, we’d have defaulted long ago.

I’ll get back to that question in a second. There are lots of things that don’t get explained while we are busy talking about the latest maneuvering and twitching and flailing of the of the GOP. One of my favorites is the repeated assertion that the GOP is being hamstrung by a vocal ‘minority.’ This cannot be, strictly speaking, ‘true’ in a democracy. In a democracy, the minority gets outvoted. If the rest of the GOP doesn’t support their vocal ‘minority’, they outvote them! It’s just not illuminating to call them a minority. They are an integral, needed part of the GOP coalition, and they are pampered and accommodated and funded and indulged by the rest of the party, and have been for a very long time, and well, surprise, surprise. But they are not some isolated ‘minority’.

Now have their demands been ‘ransom’? The case for calling it that is pretty clear. A threat to throwing the government off a cliff is not ordinary negotiating. It may or may not be unprecedented (mostly is is), but is is very much on the order of “give us concessions or we will destroy the Government of the United States, an institution we all took an oath to uphold.” So why is this ‘negotiating’? Of course, maybe one side really does WANT to destroy the Government of the United States. There is a different word for that. Maybe that’s the story we should be covering.