What’s happening in Washington D.C. is unacceptable.
And yet it persists, as though the powers that be are both immune to the tangible effects of a government shutdown, and tone-deaf to the mounting public outcry that has resulted. Republicans seem intent on blaming Democrats for the impasse, however this flies in the face of both basic logic, and the reality of what’s actually happened. While both sides are certainly to blame for what’s become the systemic and glaringly obvious failure of congress, it is the GOP that is necessarily bearing the brunt of public disdain for these latest shenanigans — and in this centrists opinion, it should be.
One of the benefits of being an independent is the ability to view any given perspective from the other side of the argument. Beyond allowing one to come to a reasoned conclusion based on all of the facts available, this tactic also empowers us to see why certain factions fight for what’s important to them. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that if hard-line partisans were to consider the merits of the positions they oppose, a more constructive and reasoned dialogue may result. Instead, we’ve seen a fight mired in both divisive vitriol and outrageously inaccurate characterizations. The most egregious of these is the GOP’s laughable insistence that this isn’t their shutdown, nor would it be their fault if congress defaulted on the nation’s debt obligations.
From this centrist’s perspective, it’s clear to see that the partial government shutdown is entirely on the shoulders of the Republican party. Should we default on our obligations as a nation, they will also wholly own the blame for that as well. The only folks who seem to disagree belie a partisan contingent that can see no wrong in the ‘principled’ stance of the GOP. These party adherents simply fail to see how fundamentally inappropriate the behavior of their leadership has become.
The fact of the matter is that the Republican Party has chosen to tie their most basic constitutionally mandated duties to the extraction of controversial concessions from those they oppose; asserting the power to both shut down the government and risk a potential default in the process. While they’ve since abandoned their initial demand to completely eradicate what they derisively call ‘Obamacare’, they’re still working to diminish the President’s signature healthcare law by including poison pills within their attempts to restore the government and remove the specter of a looming default.
These partisan amendments have proven time and again to be non-starters in both the Senate and the White House, however Republicans refuse to remove them, believing that they’re taking a principled and necessary stand for the good of the country. They’re proving repeatedly that they’re incapable of seeing the merits of anyone’s position but theirs, and seem wholly intent on going the way of the Whigs in the process. In essence, they’ve painted themselves into a corner they can’t get out of; desperately hoping that some kind of fundamental change on the part of democrats will give them the ability to fly. The fact remains though, the pressure is all on them.
It isn’t hard to see how the GOP ended up here. By systematically linking healthcare reform to every evil known to mankind over the past few years, they’ve made it impossible to recommend necessary changes without being seen as traitors within their own party. Any republican incumbent who would seek to work with democrats on improving what needs to be fixed within the Affordable Care Act will almost certainly find themselves at risk of being out primaried by an even more right-leaning candidate within the party; one who will continue to deride ‘Obamacare’ as the essence of all evil.
And yet, Obamacare is moving right along. Exchanges were made available on October 1st, and while the GOP sees fit to deride technical issues as yet more evidence of the law’s abject failure, they’re only working to highlight the overwhelming popularity of President Obama’s signature reforms. From this centrist’s view, those reforms still require quite a lot of work. If the GOP were smart, they’d abandon controversial ideological crusades and shift more toward the center to bring about the changes they deem critically important. Only time will tell if they can salvage their reputations enough to do so after this latest round of shenanigans. Unfortunately, the persistent failure of congress has guaranteed that time is a luxury neither side has.