Friday, October 4, 2013

Our government shuts down: two letters

(via Daily Kos)

You know how much I like Elizabeth Warren, United States senator from Massachusetts. Earlier this week, I posted a brief video of her, speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

But she just sent out this email to supporters, too. It's entitled, "We are not a country of anarchists."
If you watch the anarchist tirades coming from extremist Republicans in the House, you'd think they believe that the government that governs best is a government that doesn't exist at all.

But behind all the slogans of the Tea Party – and all the thinly veiled calls for anarchy in Washington – is a reality: The American people don't want a future without government.

When was the last time the anarchy gang called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children's toys? Or for inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria? Or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause horrible deformities in our babies?

When? Never. In fact, whenever the anarchists make any headway in their quest and cause damage to our government, the opposite happens.

After the sequester kicked in, Republicans immediately turned around and called on us to protect funding for our national defense and to keep our air traffic controllers on the job.

And now that the House Republicans have shut down the government – holding the country hostage because of some imaginary government "health care boogeyman" – Republicans almost immediately turned around and called on us to start reopening parts of our government.

Why do they do this? Because the boogeyman government in the alternate universe of their fiery political speeches isn't real. It doesn't exist.

Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
  1. Provide for the national defense.
  2. Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
  3. Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed.
These things did not appear by magic. In each instance, we made a choice as a people to come together. We made that choice because we wanted to be a country with a foundation that would allow anyone to have a chance to succeed.

The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that the white pills we take are antibiotics and not baking soda. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees crash tests to make sure our new cars have functioning brakes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes sure that babies' car seats don't collapse in a crash and that toasters don't explode.

We are alive, we are healthier, we are stronger because of government. Alive, healthier, stronger because of what we did together.

We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is, "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own." We are not a country that tolerates dangerous drugs, unsafe meat, dirty air, or toxic mortgages.

We are not that nation. We have never been that nation. And we never will be that nation.

The political minority in the House that condemns government and begged for this shutdown has its day. But like all the reckless and extremist factions that have come before it, its day will pass – and the government will get back to the work we have chosen to do together.

Have I mentioned that I like her optimism, too? :)

Here's another letter, this one from the editors of Daily Kos. This one is addressed to the Republican Party:
Dear GOP,

For a crowd that loves to bray about the Constitution, it seems you have misplaced your copy. How else to explain your bizarre efforts to destroy the world unless you get your way?

You don't like the Affordable Care Act. You've made it obvious. But it was passed the correct way, in a Congress that generally doesn't pass shit. It made it through the House, and it made it through the Senate. It wasn't passed in the "dead of night", nor was it "rammed down" anyone's throat like you jokers like to claim. It passed only after an excruciating 14-months of debate and negotiations. But all your hysterical shrieking about death panels and communism couldn't stop it. Finally, the president signed it into law.

Us liberals weren't thrilled when it passed. Just relieved. We didn't get anything near what we wanted. After all, we're not in the business of fighting for Heritage Foundation-created ideas championed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and first adopted by Republican governors (the guy you nominated, in fact!). If we couldn't get single payer, we at least wanted a public option—an expansion of Medicare for all. But alas, we went to D.C. with the Congress we had, not the one we wanted. And really, given the dysfunction in D.C., it's amazing we got anything at all.

So now that the law is about to be fully implemented, you're still not happy. You're still shrieking about death panels and communism, and even the death of freedom! Yeah, yeah, we get it. The 42 (or whatever) votes in the House to repeal Obamacare have made it very clear.

But here's the thing: If you want to truly get rid of the law, you have to do it the proper way, as specified in that Constitution you pretend to cherish. Those House votes? Those are a good start! Great job! You're a third of the way there. Because you still have to get that bill passed by the Senate. And then, you have to get the president to sign it. And if the president doesn't sign it, then you have to overturn that veto which requires a two-thirds majority, which you don't have even in the House.

So what are your options? Certainly not shut down the government and threaten a national default on our debt. That's not in that Constitution (seriously, read it!). Your options are to win some elections. Hold that ill-gotten gerrymandered-fueled majority in the House. Get a simple majority in the Senate and then get rid of the filibuster. Seriously, get rid of it. I won't complain. Then win the presidency. You'll have a better shot at that if you don't nominate Ted Cruz, and you might want to broaden your appeal by being less of a bunch of assholes. But really do what you must. I'm not in the habit of giving you guys advice. Just anvils.

What I do want to do is remind you that there's a right way to get rid of laws, and the undemocratic, extra-constitutional way you are trying to do it now.

If you really truly believe that America is behind you, then you're golden. 2014 and 2016 will bear that out and you'll have all the governmental control you'll need to repeal to your heart's content. So put your trust on that American public you so fervently believe is behind you and let the chips fall where they may.

Take note of that last part, particularly. Republicans keep claiming that the American people are behind them. Why, then, did they lose the election bigtime last year?

It wasn't just the presidency they lost. Republicans also lost seats in both the Senate (where they had the advantage of defending fewer seats than the Democrats) and the House.

In fact, the Democrats received over a million more votes than the Republicans in the House of Representatives. The only reason they still control the House, and can still hold the country hostage like this, is because they've gerrymandered election districts so badly. They're a minority, still holding power only because of political shenanigans.

But hey, if you really do think that the American people are behind you, then there's a constitutional way to handle this: just start winning the next elections. This is a democracy. If you lose one election, it's not the end of the world, because there's always another one.

You don't have to hold America hostage in order to get what you want. Unless you're just lying about the American people being behind you. Unless you know that we Americans will like 'Obamacare,' if we actually get the chance to try it. Unless you've been lying all along, to us and maybe even to yourself.

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