It was with a mixture of dread and glee that I opened the email from Jim DeMint a few days ago. I enjoy seeing how long it takes for him to throw out the word "freedom" in his "pro-America" missives. Today he did it in fifteen words. (Of course, you can't count the title of his newsletter – "Freedom Alert" – that would be cheating.) Kudos, Senator DeMint.
DeMint was all up in arms about the possibility that the House would pass the bill renewing the Export-Import Bank. Okay, I admit, I had no idea what the Export-Import Bank actually is or does, which puts me in good company, I believe, with most American voters. But I gritted my teeth and did the bare minimum of research, so that I could attempt to form a barely minimal intelligent opinion on this issue.
It appears that the Export-Import Bank makes loans and guarantees to American businesses so that they can sell goods to foreign countries. The original intention was to help businesses that would otherwise not be able to compete, but apparently has – surprise – been used to finance big corporations like Boeing. Causing other big corporations, like Delta, to get up in a huff over the preferential treatment.
DeMint, who apparently is a big fan of freedom, claims not to be taking sides against Boeing, he just doesn't think the US should be making loans to businesses at all. Even though, according to the Washington Post,
"The bank operates through fees and interest charges and does not receive money from the government."
Now the thing is, Demint has gotten so extreme that he is to the right of Eric Cantor on this, who was willing to work out a compromise in the House. But he has learned to have people write such purple patriotic prose under his name that people like me who know little or nothing about things like the Export-Import Bank just want to stand up and salute.
It is hard to grasp the intricacies of our government. I tend to believe that if I can't do it, Jim DeMint surely hasn't a clue. But he does tend to go with his heart, and his heart lies right inside his ego. He has gained so much notoriety in right-wing and Tea Party circles, that titles like "king maker" have gone right to his head. And with little sense or reason to fall back on, DeMint does what has worked up till now, which is to veer ever farther right.
So when he becomes so extreme that he loses friends and allies in big business and in the republican party, he continues to tell himself and all who will listen, that he is single-handedly fighting the fight for freedom. And what is freedom? It is, of course, whatever Jim DeMint is fighting for.