Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shutting down the Federal Government: It is Time for a Nationwide Recall of Our Representatives in Congress

“Here we go again”. These four words were uttered by former president Ronald Reagan during a televised debate in New Hampshire back in the late 1970’s during the primary. Frustrated over a repetitive question raised by his fellow contestants for the White House, Reagan admonished his fellow contenders for such behavior so that they move on to address issues of national priorities. The admonishment seems to have worked—they moved on and Reagan won the presidency in 1980.

President Obama should do no less. He should remind the Republicans of the futility of hanging on the one issue that is holding the government and the people hostage to “ideology. President Obama articulated such behavior best in stating (October 1) that “”holding the function of government hostage to ideology is “‘unseemly”.

The American public should be indignant about the shutdown of the Federal government. True, the Republican minority that are holding the functioning of the Federal government over the Affordable Care Act—Known best as the Obama’s care plan are acting on behalf of their constituents who share their ideology. This is how democracy functions. They were sent there to represent their constituents, their votes offered or withheld should reflect those of their constituents. But in this instance, they are not acting the way they should in a representative democracy where a vote up or down is governed by a simple majority. The issue on which government shutdown rests is irrelevant. The Affordable Care Act or the so called Obama’s care plan is the law of the land. It has been challenged, and the challenge was defeated as the US Supreme Court affirmed its legality. The ideology was put to test and in the case of the Obama’s care plan was defeated. In a representative democracy, this how a democracy functions. Our representatives have to either accept the outcome of a single majority vote, or insist in cases that divide their constituents according to ideology, that the issue should be determined by a 2/3 majority.

The American public should not let the government shut down go by the wayside. Our representatives are sent to Washington (their accountants only know how much they spend to get there) to serve the public and not the private interest. That may be an old fashion concept but that what democratic institutions are about. The segment of the Republican Party in the House of Representative that are holding the government functioning hostage to their unsuccessful effort to defeat the Obama care law, when they had the opportunity to do so, should reserve their fight for another day. Win or lose they must honor a system that allowed them to be there. A democratic system of government built on simple majority rule. Failure to achieve simple majority on any issue should be hammered out to insure the survival of democracy. The blame game should be beneath men and women in both houses of Congress. It is unworthy of representatives who pride themselves in living and serving in a democracy.

This is not the time or place to argue for against the Obama care law. Those who failed to stop it from becoming the law of the land, if they adamantly believe it to be injurious to their constituents should, in a democracy, garner the support of a majority to repeal it. That is how a democracy survives and avoids the pitfalls of autocracy.

The current ideological battle is not one that it ought to be fought by shutting down the government. Just look at what the battle is about: not to repeal the law, that battle was fought and lost, but to delay the funding for one year. You should ask: then what? Will the government be threatened with a shutdown next year, or the year that follows? Will the delay impede the implementation of the law? Just listen to what president Obama said in his televised speech: “The government is shutdown but the health care act is alive and well--the uninsured are ready to get insurance; to bail themselves out of a burden for long has been on their shoulders”.

Yesterday an American citizen reacting to the President speech put it to the Network carrying the speech: “do you know a country in either the Eastern or the Western Hemisphere where they shutdown the government because of differences in ideology?” The question was left hanging there.

The last shut down of the Federal government that took place 17 years ago lasted 21 days. How many days will it last this time around? Placing the responsibility of the shutdown on the shoulders’ of either Senator Reid or Representative Boehner does not help matters much. The American people should hold members of Congress; Democrats and Republicans hostage for their votes.
It is time for a “Nationwide recall of our representatives in Congress”. If they cannot discharge their obligations to govern, they should be sent home. The country will not be worse off than it is today.