Republican politicians bring up the founding fathers and the constitution to justify every position they take and every proposal they make. It is obvious, however, that those same politicians are not very well versed on the constitution and its history.
The founding fathers whose names Republicans often invoke, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, warned against the very thing that Republicans in the House of Representatives are engaged in right now—the tyranny of the majority.
The founding fathers set up the government with a system of checks and balances intended to protect the rights of all citizens. The republican form of government they intended was a government based on rule by the majority. They intended for free and fair elections to select the representatives of the people.
They were mindful that in government an organized, vocal, and radical majority could trample the rights of the minority. That is why they split the powers of the government between the three branches, and between the House and Senate. They feared that Representatives, elected for a two-year term, might be prone shortsightedness since they had to face the voters every two years.
The founding fathers gave the Senate six-year terms so it would take a thoughtful and long-term view of issues. This was done to protect the people from tyranny of the majority.
Today, October 3, 2013, the government of the United States remains shut down. It is shut down because the majority party in the House of Representatives is enforcing its views on the minority party as well as on the Senate and the people. Leadership of the Republican Party refuses to pass a budget to fund the government for the current fiscal year.
Their issue is over spending—the Senate and president have accepted the House’s austere funding level. Republicans won. Their issue is they want to repeal a law passed by Congress—the Affordable Care Act. The constitution spells out the process for repealing a law. Congress passes a bill in both Houses, sends it to the president who either signs it or vetoes it. If he vetoes it, then Congress can override the veto by a two thirds vote.
Republicans do not want to play by the rules set forth in the Constitution. They want one House of Congress to repeal a law without the concurrence of the other House or a vote of two thirds to override the certain veto of the president. They shut down the government to force the duly elected Senate and the duly elected president to give in to their wishes in other to keep the government running.
Even though Republicans are in the majority in the House, a majority of the duly elected Representatives in that body do not agree with the action of the Leadership. There are 200 Democrats and at least 20 Republicans who want to pass a clean bill to fund the government. It only takes 218 to pass a bill. So a minority in the Majority party—the Leadership, is inflicting its will on the House, the Senate, the White House and the American people.
Polls show that Americans by huge margins do not believe it is right to shut down the government for this purpose.
This shutdown is costing the American taxpayer money. The Hill reports that Keeping 800,000 federal workers at home is costing some $300 million a day in lost productivity, according to the consulting firm IHS Global Insight. If the furloughs continue for two weeks, the shutdown could shave 0.3 percentage points from fourth-quarter GDP growth, according to Macroeconomic Advisers. Businesses, meanwhile, are at risk of losing market access as the government pares back support for exports.
However, Republicans in Congress show no signs of giving in. This shut down could last for weeks or months. The biggest fear is that on October 17, when the government reaches its borrowing authority, Republicans force a default on our debt for the first time in history.
Perhaps Republicans should study history and read the Constitution.