During a Senate debate on an energy efficiency bill, Harry Reid claimed “the anarchists have taken over” Congress. This claim was part of a longer statement in which Reid was frustrated over the fact that several amendments had been proposed for the bill. One amendment would, if passed, delay implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare. Another amendment would require some congressional and executive branch staff to enroll in the ObamaCare health exchanges.
Those are the amendments that have Harry Reid upset. He didn’t want there to be any amendments that weren’t approved by the bills sponsors. During his speech on the Senate floor Reid said, “We’re diverted totally from what this bill is about. Why? Because the anarchists have taken over. They’ve taken over the House and now they’ve taken over the Senate. [pause] The Speaker couldn’t pass a simple CR, today… We’re in a position here where people who don’t believe in government — and that’s what the Tea Party is all about — are winning, and that’s a shame.”
Calling Tea Party members “anarchists” plays nicely into the narrative for both Reid, and the members of the Tea Party that want people to believe they don’t like (big) government. The problem is that it simply is not true.
Some Republicans will will do whatever they can to make sure certain bills they may not like get delayed. In an article titled, The Rise of the Myth of the Republican Anarchist, Trevor Hultner says, “This obstructionism is being called anarchism, repeatedly, despite having nearly nothing in common with any aspect of the anarchist tradition. Yes, it is true that if an actual anarchist somehow managed to get themselves elected to Congress, they would do all they could to make sure that nothing got passed. But this doesn’t just stem from a hatred of Democrats. Actual anarchists loathe both parties, and would make sure that their obstructionist platform was bipartisan in its monkeywrenching.” Hultner adds, “despite their flirtation with (often the most basic or vulgar) libertarianism, Republicans love the State. Specifically, they love the aspects of the State that anarchists loathe most.”
If there were any anarchists in Congress, among the first things they would do is introduce legislation to de-fund the entire federal government. This has not happened, nor will any of the members of the Tea Party Caucus ever introduce such legislation. An anarchist member of Congress would also introduce legislation to abolish all forms of taxation, and withdraw the US military from the nearly 1000 military bases around the world. Again, that has not happened.
To Harry Reid and many Democrats, an anarchist is anyone who wants government to grow slower than they do; to the Republicans, being viewed as wanting less (or no) government fits within the myth that Republicans support limited government, despite the real-world evidence to the contrary!