Getting older has many challenges to be sure but one incalculable benefit is the clarity which comes from experience. The world is much more often various shades of grey than the black and white we espouse, often stridently, in our youth. At the same time there are in fact some inalienable truths and all the vociferous argument to the contrary does not make an alternative universe real.
There has been much written about the antics on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and the resulting embarrassment to the U.S. the “Hell No” caucus caused with their tantrum. Sure Democrats are wallowing in the wretched mess that is the Republicans, but not for nothing, much of the scorn has been written by heretofore committed small-government Republican leaders and commentators (i.e., John McCain, The Wall Street Journal, Lindsay Graham, etc.).
Yet, at the same time there are those who still try to steal some sort of victory from the jaws of defeat, who are so stuck in their spin cycle it truly occurs they believe what they argue as if saying it more and louder makes it true. Jon Stewart’s comparison of the House Republicans antics to the equivalent of the NY Giants asking for points back after a losing game or threatening to shutdown the NFL is about as apt as any. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-september-30-2013/jon-stewart-s-rockin--shutdown-eve
One such bloviator, and as is often the case a prolific writer who has “academic” and “senior fellow” after his name as if these monikers alone allow for learned and erudite criticism, much less accuracy, wrote after the government was reopened that it was actually the President and the Senate Democrats who closed the government. I guess those ‘big spending, big government Democrats who are in the back pockets of public employee unions” are also incredibly adept at fooling everyone and they really are AGAINST government.
This National Review columnist wrote a piece the other day that would be a damn good and funny parody, except that he seemed to be writing it with a straight face. He claims that because the House has budget making authority under the Constitution and they voted “all the money required to keep all government activities going” that it was actually President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid who failed to “negotiate” and caused the shutdown. It appears that The Affordable Care Act, passed by both chambers, signed into law and affirmed as constitutional by the Supreme Court, is not now a government activity.
I wonder if he, or anyone else doing intellectual and logical contortions over the recent train wreck would feel the same if the “others” were in charge… Imagine the Democrats, and to make it more similar an unruly band of far left ideologues at that, had control of the House. The Republicans had control of the Senate and Mitt Romney was President.
Now the Democrats, who failed to convince voters in this representative democracy in the last two elections, are absolutely incensed at the amount of money we spend on defense (or, as Bush proved, “offense”) and even after losing legislative efforts, oh, say 40 times, to change the budget formula they instead said “hell no, shut it down”.
Of course the House, under any party’s control, has a right to spend money- actually vote and then reconcile with the Senate- as they believe. The voters have the ultimate authority every two years to hold them accountable for their actions…or as in the case of this House, inactions. What seems to get lost in all this constitution-thumping is that elected representatives also have a responsibility to govern, to god-forbid compromise and to respect the institution and their duty to uphold the laws of this nation.
No, this doesn’t mean capitulating to the tyranny of the majority – all the time. But can’t we all agree in some basic principles of our Democracy. Go ahead give it your best shot and voice a strong argument, maybe even a few times. But 40 times? They lost- in the Congress, in the Presidential election (twice) and at the Court. To allege that government workers were not furloughed because of anything the recalcitrant Republicans did is like saying that anti-abortion Congressmen and women who vote against omnibus spending bills which include funding for the Grand Canyon and the NIH, and then say “I didn’t shut down the National Parks”.
There are those on the (far) right who claim we cannot say who “wants to shut down the government”. Really? Thanks to smart phones and video cameras we actually do know exactly (some) of those who want exactly that. During the campaigns of 2010 there were a number of Tea Party candidates who said exactly that while campaigning. See actual footage of candidates who claimed that if elected they would “shut it down”. http://video.msnbc.msn.com/rachel-maddow/53151808
To disagree, argue and challenge dogma is human and critical not only for our existence but also our progress. What’s happening here however is more often driven by anger and venom, not inquiry and curiosity.
Sure the extremists in Congress don’t like the Affordable Care Act, and their predecessors fought against Medicare, Social Security and the Civil Rights Act too. They also know very well that when this law takes full effect its public support is likely to grow enormously over time and it will be politically impossible to kill later. But that’s not what’s behind this.
They also really don’t like the President, and whether it’s based on his race or not, its spite filled animosity and driven by real hate. But that’s not likely the problem here either.
What seems to be really motivating this group of members who really don’t play well with others is that they just don’t like government and fully believe that “what’s good for GM is good for America”. As a result of their utter distaste for anything which even smells of collective action, or the community caring for individuals or the faintest whiff of a public responsibility for people (or the environment, or animals, etc) they take their marbles and go home. Interestingly, they run for the very offices which preside over these programs. Though when they win, they actually want to burn the house down from within.
Let’s at least be honest about what is happening here. Stop the fantastical assertion that Republicans didn’t close the government and risk default. Come forth and make your best argument about why we don’t need government and be willing to let voters decide. Or, is that just a little too scary? The fear the ruling parties have as the world changes is real and necessitates some care and compassion… but the change is happening whether the old guard is ready or not.