Friday, October 4, 2013

When it comes to the government shutdown, let's not round up the usual suspects for a change

Vichy Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) instructing
the police to "round up the usual suspects" in "Casablanca."
Let's get one thing straight here, when it comes to the federal government shutdown, Congress is not the problem. This is what the drama-stoking machinery that masquerades as the popular news media would have you believe. It is also the anodyne, hand-wringing, why-can't-we-just-get-along explanation preferred by people who see national politics as nothing more than family dysfunction writ large.

The people who buy into this analysis, or at least parrot it mindlessly, imagine that putting pressure on Congress, let's say by withholding their pay, will knock some sense to these bickering clowns. As though our Senators and Representatives are quaking in their boots at the prospect of forgoing a paycheck or two or ten. Others imagine that, since Congress is the problem, then the solution is that tried and true - rather that should be trite and failed - demand to "throw the bums out." As though all members of Congress deserve equal treatment, since, of course being politicians, they are equally venal and self-serving.

Well, I've got news for this naive, lump-them-all-together crowd, and that is that the problem here is not Congress, as reassuring as that notion might be to you, the problem is that a majority of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives - and notably not a majority of members of the House itself - wants to roll back a important piece of legislation that is a critical first step in making healthcare accessible to all Americans. They despise this idea and will go to destructive lengths to make sure that this advance in our march toward social justice does not see the light of day.

It is this very same group of troglodytes - and not Congress - that opposes marriage equality. It is this very same group - and not Congress - that undermines even the smallest efforts to deal with climate change and preserve the integrity of the environment for our children and grandchildren. It is this very same group - and not Congress - who continue to conduct a dastardly war against women, in particular, against their right to exercise choices about their reproductive health options and about control of their own bodies.

So, for fuck's sake, quit blaming Congress in some abstract and ultimately ineffectual way and start blaming the backward-looking Tea Party cretins who are responsible for this mess. And, while you're at it, don't forget to blame Speaker John Boehner who, in a trice, could allow a clean continuing resolution to be voted on and likely passed by a majority composed of both Democrats and Republicans in the House.

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