Thoughts of the US Government Shutdown

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I don’t always talk about politics but I think this government shutdown is just ridiculous and isn’t doing anyone any favors. National parks, museums, and historic sites are closed, certain social programs and policies are inactive, and thousands of government workers are furloughed until further notice. Meanwhile, Congress is stuck in the Capitol basically doing who knows what while the rest of the nation is struggling and the debt limit is ebbing ever closer to the ceiling. People are pointing fingers at the party they don’t like just to have a scapegoat, angry protestors are arriving in Washington in droves, and rants are popping up on every social media outlet while the media outlets are basically creating sensationalism as usual.

Of course, both parties are at fault since Washington D. C. is a city where no government official is completely innocent regardless of party affiliation and amount of dirty laundry. However, as the liberal I am, I have to reserve special ire on the Congressional Republicans who I can’t occupy any ounce of sympathy for. Of course, there’s no doubt they were the ones who hold most of the responsibility for putting us in this debacle in the first place over a piece of legislation they don’t like and tried almost every trick in the book to get rid of. Call it Obamacare or he Affordable Care Act but it’s a piece of legislation that’s here to stay, which most Americans like. It’s not perfect and doesn’t solve everything wrong with the healthcare system but at least it’s better than the healthcare system we had before the ACA became law (and I don’t want our country to go back to it). Still, what disgusts me that these Republican Congressmen despise this legislation so much that they’re willing to do the unthinkable and don’t seem to harbor any shame in doing so nor care who gets hurt. All they seem to care about themselves and their party’s bottom line and would risk undermining the national quality of life to make sure the government run by their party platform which must be retained at the utmost ideological purity even if such notions like protecting life and free market economics vastly contradict each other. If they don’t get their way, they usually whine and scream like a two-year-old, blame the Democrats, and go on nasty tirades on Fox News, since it’s the only news network that ever agrees with them 100% of the time. I’m sick of how they justify trying to get their own way by making life a complete hell for millions of Americans, especially those who can hardly afford to make ends meet. I’m disgusted how many of them call themselves Christian yet selfishly reject legislation that promotes Christian values using buzzwords like, “big government,” “government takeover,” “Socialism,” “amnesty,” “soft on terror,” and other terms. I have seen my youngest cousins act with much more respect, dignity, and maturity than this selfish, spoiled, bullying, and tantrum prone bunch of middle aged brats. What makes me more outraged is that how perfectly sane and sensible people can take them seriously or even vote for them.

Look, most Americans may not be 100% content with Obamacare or other government policies but none wouldn’t dare wish for a government shutdown regardless of political beliefs. No matter how much Americans complain about their government, there at least some government programs that we like, benefit from, and/or rely upon. There are even self-identified conservative Republicans who’d spat almost any anti-government tirade you could think of, but will go out of his or her way to justify why certain government programs and functions should remain for those very reasons. I know a lot of people like this personally and that Congressional Republicans are also guilty of such when they discuss a policy such as national defense spending, which conservatives will always advocate increasing regardless of whether it complies with their concept of limited government or not. Putting more money in national defense doesn’t reduce the size of the government, especially when it pertains to financing certain projects like wars. Rather such action expands government size as well as adds to the debt and burdens taxpayers in decades to come. Yet, you will never hear a Republican say this. Most of the time conservative Republicans will will inflict their beliefs on limited government is when it pertains to legislation they hate like environmental protection regardless how much money it may save in the long run. As with environmental protection, a conservative Republican will oppose any such legislation citing that such laws don’t benefit the economy and take away jobs from hard working Americans. They would call environmentalists tree-hugging hippies, say that global warming isn’t real (it is, it’s caused by human activity, and it’s serious), and view their causes as trivial and selfish. However, a lot of environmental legislation has not only helped improve our nation’s quality of life but also saved taxpayers a tremendous amount of money in the long term which would’ve been spent on treating pollution related illnesses, cleaning up environmental disaster areas, and other things. Furthermore, it has helped businesses, created new jobs, and drive up technological innovation. Yet both scenarios very much illustrate that regardless of party affiliation and ideology, we all have our own ideas about government and most of us wouldn’t want our lawmakers to get rid of certain aspects about it that we either like, benefit from, or depend upon. And that even those who believe in smaller and more limited government will make certain reservations for such government policy.

Of course, you might think that the Republicans’ support of increased defense spending but opposition to environmental legislation sort of discredits the GOP as a champion of smaller government. Indeed it does, but in their positions on both these issues make sense if you also note that the Republican Party also champions big business, corporations, and unrestrained free market economy. A higher defense budget benefits defense contractors like Haliburton, Blackwater, KBR, and Lockheed Martin as well as other companies like Boeing. To have a defense contract is to be on the government’s payroll manufacturing whatever the military needs, especially at a time of war. On the other hand, companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Shell absolutely hate any policy relating to environmental protection because they not only want to be at the top of their competition and earn a profit but also avoid any responsibility for environmental damage they might have caused (note how a Big Oil company acts after causing an oil spill or how any polluting company in any other environmental disaster). No carbon based energy industry wants to compete with a green energy upstart and certainly prefers not to adapt. As with environmental disasters, a big polluting energy company would go out of its way to avoid responsibility for the damage it caused to the affected wildlife or local community.

Still, despite that the United States is a democratically elected government in which citizens elect their leaders to represent their interests, this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to have his or her own way 100% of the time. We must remember that elections and legislative decisions are decided by majority vote. And though the Republicans still maintained a majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats still control the Senate and the presidency so they’re certainly not going to have their way all the time in Washington. Not to mention, Obama won reelection in 2012 so if it has any idea of what the country thinks of him or his policies, then it probably means Congressional Republicans should stop being the sore loser crybabies they are and start cooperating with the Democrats as well as maybe go along with a compromise or two. They may also want to pay attention to public opinion in their own district and doing what’s best for the country, instead of their own party, special interests, or themselves. Sure Democrats may have the same problems as their conservative counterparts but at least they don’t act like bullying crybabies on TV, have put up with considerable crap from their opposition as well as their own party ranks for years, don’t have their own version of Fox News, don’t respond harshly to criticism or demean disadvantaged and minority populations, and aren’t always obsessed with ideological purity. Furthermore, the Democratic Party has a platform that works for 21st century America and appeals to a large and diverse population. Thus, Republicans might want to understand that while throwing a tantrum will give you attention, it will never give you respect, especially from people like me who are absolutely fed up with your shenanigans you put the American people through. If you don’t start losing gracefully and acting like mature adults, then expect to create more enemies, lose more elections, and eventually have your party be driven into extinction. For though us Democrats may be your rivals, you Republicans are your own worst enemy. And if you’re willing to risk a government shutdown over a piece of legislation you don’t like, then there’s obviously something wrong with you.

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