by Ed Gross
No excuse. There’s simply no excuse for adding a controversial bill to a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running. Adding the defunding of the Affordable Care Act, the signature achievement of the president’s first term is mind-boggling. This after all is a measure that is designed quite literally to save lives. And don’t forget that the budget this move puts on hold is the one Republicans wanted. Their sequester has been in place, and that means programs are already being funded at lower levels than anyone would’ve predicted even two years ago. More, more, more, they clamor. Nothing but total capitulation will satisfy a Tea Party as nonsensical as any presided over by the Mad Hatter.
What’s going on here? Apparently, our country has traded in traditional democracy for minority rule. First, the Republicans in the Senate turned the threat of a filibuster into common procedure so as to prevent bills with majority support from even reaching the floor. That should be the worst of it, but no. The House Republicans will not be outdone. They’ve decided that, despite the last election and a Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare, we’ll do it their way or else. Mentioning it may sound like sour grapes, but gerrymandering makes many House Republicans safer and much stronger than their support in the country would indicate. As a matter of fact, last November, the American people preferred Democratic House candidates to Republican House candidates by almost 1.4 million votes, yet Republicans still hold a substantial House majority. So even where they’re the majority, they represent a minority of voters.
But back to the shutdown and a few words from Tom Toles. He’s the genius political cartoonist available free online in the opinion section of the Washington Post. He writes one blog entry each weekday and on Oct. 2 he made a terrific point about the media reporting of the story.
It takes a little doing, but imagine the way the media would cover it if a small group of environmentalists in Congress succeeded in shutting down the government to protest the Keystone XL pipeline because of climate concerns… It would be treated as the most shockingly subversive, radical threat to democracy in the history of the republic. There would be NO stories about ‘negotiations’ or ‘blame on both sides’ or anything of the sort. It would be all sabotage all the time, start to finish, cover to cover. .. and much This Cannot Stand-ery.
Maybe by the time you read this the shutdown will be over. Maybe the rabid right won’t cause the U.S. to default on its debt, which at this point is next up on their schedule. Maybe there’ll be pie and ice cream for all of us. But it’s hard to see where this craziness will end. For starters, we need the constitutional amendment being forwarded by Move to Amend to undo the Supreme Court Citizens United decision which opened the floodgates for millionaires and billionaires to undermine the will of the people. It also wouldn’t hurt if we elected a real liberal as president in 2016 (Sorry Hillary fans, but I’m talking Elizabeth Warren/Al Franken liberal.) and replaced one of the conservatives on the Supreme Court someone like Ben Jealous the young, retiring president of the NAACP. In the long-run, we need people who care about morality and understand that government is the protectors of everyone’s rights to get involved in politics.