Both sides of the political aisle are attempting to paint the picture that the OTHER side is to blame for the government shutdown. The republican-controlled House is blaming the president and democratically controlled Senate for the shutdown because of their stubborn unwillingness to compromise. Meanwhile, the president and the Senate (as well as some republican leaders as well) are blaming the House republicans (and the Tea Party) for the shutdown because the House is insisting that the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) be delayed or defunded. Also, they are blaming the House and the Tea Party because it’s totally obvious to everyone that it’s completely their fault.
Well, I wouldn’t say “completely,” but we’ll get back to that in a minute….
Imagine, for a moment, that there was a republican president and a republican-controlled Senate with a Democrat-controlled House. Imagine that a bill was passed (through the process set up in the US Constitution) and signed into law, but that law was unpopular with House democrats. Now imagine that this hypothetical democratically-controlled House (which controls spending) refused to fund the government unless the president and the Senate submitted to their demands (for example, agreeing to universal background checks for gun sales and a ban on assault weapons). Whose “fault” would this be? The thing is, even THIS analogy is not as inherently messed up as the situation we have happening right now in Congress! And here’s why: Because for many of the republicans behind this government shutdown, defunding and shutting down government programs has been part of their goal and plan since they took office. Shutting down the FDA; sticking it to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; cutting funding to the Centers for Disease Control; taking money from The National Institutes of Health; cutting money for social programs that help the homeless; shutting down WIC programs that try to feed poor kids; stopping Head Start…. This is a republican smorgasbord! It’s like a chocolate sundae, only instead of having a cherry on top, they get cuts to “Entitlements.” Twist my arm, right?
Republican leaders are trying to blame Obama because they say he’s “unwilling to compromise” (Here is video of Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell discussing how they think blaming the democrats for “not being willing to compromise” is a horrible strategy that wasn’t poll-tested), while other people have said that what the House is doing is like a hostage situation, but I really don’t think that’s a very good analogy. The republicans are saying, “Either we get what we want, or you are going to give us what we want!” The situation we have happening is like a bank robber demanding that they give him one stack of money; otherwise he’s going to demand that they give him a different stack of money. There is no compromise happening in that situation. This is like trying to negotiate with a bank robber who already told you that his REAL intention is to blow up the bank. In a hostage situation, the person who takes the hostage did not get elected by running on a platform of having a death wish and trying to kill as many hostages as possible….
And this is why it’s really not the House Republicans’ fault. It’s our fault. The American People are the ones who elected these jack holes into office. We sat idly by as Tea Party extremists organized and did what it took to have their candidates win local primaries in areas of the country that, given the choice between an insane “republican” and a competant democrat, they’ll vote for the republican. We didn’t show up at the town hall meetings to show our support for better healthcare legislation, but they did. And they screamed their crazy heads off. And because of their screaming, the Affordable Care Act is not nearly as good of a peice of legislation as it could have been–leading them to more screaming about its faults. And right now we’re doing nothing as well. We’re sitting back and quietly bitching about how asinine this whole standoff is, but you know what? Congress doesn’t subscribe to your Facebook feed!! Until people start making some noise and screaming their own crazy heads off, this shutdown is going to go on and on. And despite what you hear on FoxNews, this shutdown actually hurts people—beyond the inconvenience of not being able to go to a National Park. There actually are important things that the government does for the people of this country.
Some people are tempted to just let the Republicans keep shooting themselves in the feet in order to win more seats in the next election, but I have a better idea, and it involves my republican friends. ACTUAL republicans—Not the radicalized, social Darwinist Tea Party quasi-anarchists who want to shut down every program designed to help poor people or insure public safety or put checks on big business or set limits on the plutocracy. There are a lot of you out there who see this “impasse” for what it is: Extortion. It is extortion by House republicans who have been duped into believing that they are going to lose their jobs unless they continue this war–A war that is no longer on poverty, but on poor people. It is extortion by the same people who just stripped the most recent Farm Bill of its funding for the SNAP (Suplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–formerly “food stamps”) program. They vote to give huge subsidies to giant “farms” (Corporations) that insure that they make a profit even in hard years (reminds me of Wall Street), while taking away the scraps that fall off the table from people who are living in poverty. Incedentally, the average American contributes $6000 tax dollars per year in big business subsidies, while a person making $50,000 a year pays about 10 cents/day in taxes to pay for food stamps that help poor people to eat. Which one of these do you think is the REAL problem with government spending?
So here is what you can do. Pick up your phone, and call your House Repesentative–especially if you live in a place with a Representative that is playing a game with 800,000 governmental workers’ saleries, as well as the programs that help and support our most vulnerable citizens. It’s a game with rules, and elected officials are not allowed to “take their ball and go home” just because they don’t like how the game is playing out. Remind them that they are public servants. Inform them that just because a bunch of armageddon conspiracy theorist birther anarchists show up and make a lot of noise at town hall meetings, it doesn’t mean that the majority of the people they represent don’t want functioning government. Tell your representative that if they don’t get their shit together and fund the government (as well as authorizing the paying of our debts), you are going to do everything in your power to insure that they will never be elected to anything ever again. And scream if you need to.
If you don’t know who your representative in the House is (or if you aren’t sure how to get ahold of him or her), you can CLICK RIGHT HERE and it will take you to a page that you simply enter your ZIP Code and it will show you who it is. Click on their name, and it will take you to a page that has their contact info. If all of the people who are upset over the recent actions of the House (as well as their threats to damage the US credit by refusing to pay for the things we’ve already bought when the debt limit issue come up in a couple weeks) call their representative to passionately express their desire to have a functioning government and functioning representatives, this garbage will end in a hurry. Before we can have a conversation about whether we need bigger government or smaller government, we have to have a functioning government.
And then please, if you are a registered republican, PLEASE go vote for rational people in your republican primaries, because these government-hating dip shits are doing their best to turn the government into something that is truly worth hating, instead of something that can actually work to help people.