Congress has Munchausen by Proxy

Tina Dupuy
Tina Dupuy

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, now referred to as Factious Disorder by Proxy or FDbP, is where a parent or caretaker enjoys the attention of having a sick child so they exaggerate and sometimes induce their victim’s symptoms. Children are made to be sick; parents are given sympathy for their seeming stoicism. It’s adulation-seeking via child abuse.

In this case the caretaker is Congress (specifically the Republican-controlled House) and the thing they’re enjoying making unwell is, well, us: the country, our economy, postal services, meat inspections, air traffic control, infrastructure, law enforcement, military, credit rating, commerce, and every other part of a country thought of around the globe as a super power.

This disorder can sometimes be traced to an early legit emergency, where the caregiver with FDbP first experiences the rush of admiration they’ll later crave. For the GOP it’s probably September 11, 2001. It was on that day the then-leader of the Republican party (the same dude the GOP no longer acknowledges exists, they’ll even listen to Mitt Romney speak before uttering his name) finally got to do everything he wanted without question – all with an over (and brief) 80 percent approval rating. He pre-emptively invaded Iraq without paying for it, flattened wages, made the rich richer and transformed higher education into a profit-driven industry. More importantly he got Democrats to shut up while he pretended drunken-sailor-spending was compassionate conservatism.

So the idea was planted: The country in peril equals Republicans to the rescue! Even more important: Republican ideas – no matter how unsound – getting implemented.

“My child is SICK – quick cut taxes!!”

And when deregulating the banking industry led to widespread fraud and abuse that ended up buckling our economy – causing another crisis – again Republicans got to do what they’ve always wanted; privatize profits and nationalize losses. The Republican-president-who-will-not-be-named bailed out the banks – those bastions (bastards) of the alleged and largely make-believe free market, saying famously, “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”

Which is akin to saying you’ve abandoned religion to save the church.

“My baby is running a fever! Hurry up and give wealthy white-collar criminals money and immunity!!”

After Republicans lost the White House in 2008 they decided if Obama succeeds, it’ll be bad for them. It was about getting back those glorious not-spoken-about-GOP-president years when they could rack up debt and use the word “liberal” like it means skin lice. And as soon as the GOP got control of the House the government has been on the verge of a shutdown virtually every month.

Republicans get to hold vigils (press conferences) lamenting the suffering of the country they’ve sworn to protect, while we all stare at our televisions with a creepy feeling and a suspicion we’re not quite able to place.

Republican Factious Disorder by Proxy: “We love our country; we’re the unsung heroes of this inexplicable illness (we’re inducing). All we ask is that you’ll make our monument on the National Mall tasteful.”

Our ailments are fabricated by Republicans and the antidotes are also fabricated by Republicans. Our spending problem? They made it and now only they can fix it. Our deficit? “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter,” said Veep Dick Cheney. Now? They matter. Especially to Republicans who like to use the word “Reagan.” They’ve shown their willingness to shut down the government (downgrading our credit in the process) to reduce the deficit. They’re basically sabotaging the country and calling it, laughably, patriotism. Or even worse – common sense.

Obama, for his part, keeps on trying to govern by consensus with a Republican party that waits for consensus so they can oppose it.

They have to, in effect, abandon their principles in order to save their principles (see: the individual mandate; Chuck Hagel; the DREAM Act etc.).

Make sense? Of course not. It’s still a guiding ideology for the party of Bush, post-Bush.

We have a factious disorder because of our factually dysfunctional opposition party. Budget showdown, debt-ceiling, fiscal cliff, sequestration – these are all symptoms of grand scale Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.

Yes, it’s twisted. And yes, we’re sick … and tired of it.

– Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the editor-in-chief of Tina can be reached at

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