The last time I checked, which was approximately two minutes ago, multiple news sites confirmed my belief that the Obamacare Bill was passed by a majority of the House and Senate back in 2009. And the last time I checked, about ten minutes, in theory the United States is supposed to be a democracy, at least that’s what wikipedia says. So can someone please explain to me why neither party is representing the people?
Why is it that the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to get Obamacare (passed by the majority) eradicated and in turn causing hardship not only for federal workers, but for the country as a whole? Not only have multiple leaders of the party proclaimed that they will keep the government shutdown until either Obamacare is officially eradicated, or that its first wave of reforms delayed, but they also plan on not raising the debt ceiling if their demands are not meant. Just so you know Obamacare went into effect today and the shutdown had absolutely no effect in stopping it.
Not only this, but the Republicans plan to bring the argument over Obamacare to the table in just a few weeks when Congress discusses raising the debt ceiling. I don’t know if you remember what happened the last time Congress fought over the debt ceiling, but basically the country’s entire credit rating was downgraded, which in turn effected the entire world’s economy. If we don’t raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17th it will be the first time in this nation’s history that we default. Not only would that be embarrassing, but it’ll seriously rock an economy that has just barely been getting back on its feet within the past six years.
Now I know talking about Obamacare is like shooting a dead horse with a machine gun: totally ineffective since I’m sure you have, already decided which side of the issue you stand on. So I will spend very little time even discussing that. However, I would hope that most people in this nation could agree that pre-2009 our healthcare system was broken and a solution was needed.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I can’t speak completely objectively about this issue. Since most of my family was born with some type of disease, having guaranteed health insurance is a big deal to me. Just, for example, the current medication I’m on, the one that keeps me out of the hospital and having surgery, would cost me a thousand dollars every two weeks if I didn’t have health insurance. How does that make sense? And I don’t even have that severe of a disease. Without good health it is impossible for a person to have a decent life and effectively benefit and partake in a democratic society. Along, with education and the bearing of arms, health is a fundamental human right.
The Republicans, and to a certain extent, the Democrats, are dogmatically sticking to ideals that in the end are not helping the nation. And yes I used dogmatically for a reason. Both parties are turning their political idealogies into godless religions and seem to think that compromising on anything will lead to eternal damnation, at least in the polls. The point of a democracy is to compromise so that the far left and right do not take over the country.
We have had government shutdowns before. However, what is occuring right now is fundementally different from the shutdown that happened in 1995-96 under the Clinton Administration. This time, both parties are disagreeing on the issue of a policy, rather than how much the government’s budget should be. There will be a clear loser in this battle which will be fought to win the hearts and minds of the American public. That being said, the Democrats are legally more in the right than the Republicans for a few reasons. First the American public re-elected Obama after the passing of Obamacare, so, if the majority of the nation had truly wanted it redacted he would not have won. That is how democracies work. It doesn’t matter how slight the majority is; they are still allowed their say until the next election. Even Sen. John McCain, a Republican, is saying this. Second, not only does the policy seem to have the support of the American public, but it has been tried in front of the Supreme Court and found to be constitutional. Thus a minority of extremists Republicans are hijacking the public will, fear mongering the masses, and taking a stand that, though theatrical, is only hurting their constituents in the end.
How is this possible though? Well, John Boehner made a pledge that he would only pass legislation that has the support of enough Republicans to be enacted without any help from the Democrats. In other words he has handed over control of his party to the Tea Partiers and far right extremists. One must wonder why. It is clear that the Republican party has been going through the birthing pains of creating a new party since the Bush Administration, but they have been favoring the extremists, rather than old school Republican moderates. By doing this, they have made it nearly impossible for American democracy to function because they do not want to compromise their beliefs. In fact it seems compromise is a far worse fate then defeat.
So why is this relevant to someone who may not religiously log on to Politico or watch the news every night? The country is close to the level of polarization found before the outbreak of the Civil War. Hopefully, the Republicans are not going to break off and make a separate union; although I’m sure they wish they could. But, it’s clear that the country needs to decide where we are going. The following NPR article , http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/10/01/228159366/reporting-on-the-shutdown-one-facebook-post-at-a-time, made a very interesting point about this particular shutdown. This is the first time that the people are able to engage in a truly democratic dialogue about what’s happening. Millions are tweeting, facebooking, and instagraming pictures and messages about the effects the shutdown is having withing the first 24 hours.
I saw an article today about a group of WWII veterans pushing past the barricade that was put up around a WWII monument. What disturbed me, though, was that the media chose to highlight the particular story, I saw it on several news sites. Especially, the fact that Michelle Bachmann, one of the far right Republicans involved in the shutdown, helped the veterans move past the barricade. Yes, it was moving, but in some ways it felt a little staged. Will this be the only story about people defying the idiocy that is taking over the country?
I can list many social and political revolutions that were set off by smaller things than a Congressional shutdown. The most recent example is the Vinegar Movement that took place in Brazil this past spring. The name came from the fact that protesters doused themselves in vinegar in order to counteract the gases that police sprayed on them to try and subdue the crowds. Initially, protests in Sao Paulo started in response to the government increasing the price of public transit, but it quickly ignited the entire country into a frenzy, ultimately forcing the country to bring reforms to education, healthcare, and of course the price of public transit. Now I’m not calling for an overthrow of the American government, but I do hope that what happened today at least triggers some type of response from the people. Perhaps we can use this shutdown as a means to pressure the government to represent us again. Now wouldn’t that be a novel idea!