Platinum Coins and Banana Republics

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


A couple of days ago Greg Sargent emailed to ask me why I was so opposed to the $1 trillion platinum coin as a way of evading the debt ceiling. After all, a lot of liberals argue that Republicans are threatening to turn the United States into a banana republic by refusing to allow our bills to be paid, so why shouldn’t Democrats respond in kind? I think it’s worth sharing my answer:

Fighting banana republic with more banana republic is far more dangerous than coin supporters think. It’s one thing for Republicans to go crazy. It’s another for craziness to essentially become institutionalized. When liberals stop fighting this kind of stuff, we really are on our way to banana republic-hood.

Is that self-explanatory? In the end, I think we’ll end up with a negotiated solution of some kind to the debt ceiling standoff, so I don’t consider the danger as great as some people do. But even if I’m wrong about that, I think there’s a much bigger danger in the possibility of ridiculous unilateral legal hair-splitting becoming the norm in American politics. If that happens, then we really are just an unusually rich banana republic.

The answer to the debt ceiling nonsense is to force Republicans back into some semblance of responsibility and prudence. In the long term, it’s the only way we survive. Barack Obama appears to understand that.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate