Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Brief Thought on the Government Shutdown

I've not done a post on politics in a while, mostly because they've become completely uncivil in the past few years. However, I thought I'd throw in my two cents on the government shutdown.

I'll start with saying that my company is directly affected by the shutdown. There is a possibility that, if the shutdown goes too long, the funds that my company is coasting on will dry up and I'll be facing a furlough. Thus, the effects of the shutdown aren't exactly theoretical to me.

I'm not entirely happy that the GOP decided to use the budget as the tool to try to get concessions on the hilariously misnamed "Affordable Care Act". At the same time, I can see why the Republicans think this may be their only real chance to take the ACA head on. The ACA was a ridiculously partisan law that was passed along party lines. As far as I know, the law had absolutely no input from the GOP. Many believe that the GOP's gains in Congress the following election year were primarily caused by the passage of a law that was so unpopular with the American public. Many Republican representatives see their election as a mandate to repeal or reform Obamacare.

What really annoys me is how much the media and others are calling this "the Republicans' shutdown". It's not the Republicans' shutdown, it's Congress' shutdown. The government didn't shutdown because Republicans wanted it to, it shutdown because the GOP wanted to negotiate some concessions. Unfortunately, the Democrats, led by Harry Reid (a ridiculous clown that should have been put out to pasture years ago) were entirely unwilling to negotiate and apparently preferred the tactic of name-calling. Since the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate couldn't agree, the government shutdown.

Here's the problem, Mr. Reid; because we don't live in a single party dictatorship, you have to make make concessions if you want something in return. Our political system was actually designed to work this way to promote moderation. However, you've decided instead to behave like a petulant child since you can't immediately have everything your way. When the Republicans try to do something civil, like offer to fund important parts of the government until a solution can be reached, you scream "no deal!" and then return to lamenting that the GOP doesn't care about furloughed workers. When the Republicans support a bill to ensure that furloughed workers receive back pay when the government shutdown is over, you claim that it shows that the GOP doesn't care how long the shutdown lasts.

Harry Reid's idea of negotiation in good faith

This is why our political system has become so uncivil in recent years. People like Reid don't see the other side as earnest but mistaken, they see them as mustache-twirling villains.

I would argue that this shift in mindset over the past 10 to 15 years is the cause of most of the so-called crises in Washington. When people refuse to accept that their opponents may simply be wrong or just have a different opinion and instead insist that they're actually evil and have impure motives, then you have a recipe for constant deadlock and vicious partisanship.


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