Some random thoughts on the government shutdown.
* The President and members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, are all still getting paid and all still have their benefits intact because they are considered essential government employees (not that the majority of Americans consider any of them essential at this point).
* The Republicans are blind to irony. The primary stumbling block that led to the shutdown had nothing to do with the actual budget. The right-wing of the Republican party made it about the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which went into effect today despite the shutdown because it is funded in a different way and is separate from the budget in question.
* Side Note: Speaking of a lack of irony it was the Republicans who originally and derisively nicknamed the Affordable Care Act by the word Obamacare, without realizing that it is much easier to say, catchy, and sends a message that Obama cares.
* The most visible result of the shutdown is the closing of the National Parks, which includes such tourist destinations as the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone and Yosemite, all the memorials in the District of Columbia (and the Smithsonian), and many other places Americans love to go. The symbolism of closing these things down is a powerful campaign tool for whichever party succeeds at convincing the American public that it was the other party’s fault.
* The military doesn’t shut down for anything.
* The stock market has rallied all day long. Interesting.
* Tea Partiers hate government in pretty much any size, though they constantly rail against “big” government. A government shutdown is not anathema to them but a breath of fresh air. But due to ideological purity tests they don’t ever look at the larger picture to see what kind of impact smaller government has on things that all of us love and count on pretty much on a daily basis (the parks being just one small part of that). If the shutdown continues it really will hurt more and more Americans and each day that passes will send thousands of votes away from the ones who caused this. At this point just under half of Americans polled are blaming Tea Party Republicans, about a third are blaming the President and/or Democrats and about a fifth are blaming both sides and believe they are all acting like petulant children.
* This is the 41st time that the Republicans have tried to legislate against the Affordable Care Act and it is the 41st time that they have failed.
* As Jon Stewart noted on The Daily Show the law was passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court (which, by the way, is a conservative court). It is a law whether they like it or not. Perhaps at some point in the future they’ll be able to undo it as they are now trying to do to Medicare, Social Security, and other social programs we’ve all come to rely upon, but before they do it will be as entrenched as those programs and once Americans see how it works resistance to eliminating it will be as strong as the resistance to doing anything to Social Security. That is why they are so desperately trying every tactic now–they are afraid of it becoming entrenched and know that once that happens they will likely never be able to change it. This really is their only time to try to stop it.
* Side Note: Someone I know once drove about ninety miles for a tea party rally against taxes. I asked how they thought the four-lane highway to get there was funded, as well as their police protection while they marched and rallied, among other things. They were not really able to answer. I would ask the same person why they are so antagonistic toward Obamacare. I’d like to know what it is that is so bad about it. I’m betting they wouldn’t really have an answer for that either.
* No matter how irritating the shutdown might be to some of us who are inconvenienced by things like the parks being shut down we need to keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of American citizens are now at least temporarily unemployed and have no money coming in to pay their bills, to buy others’ products, or to save toward retirement. Those in Washington who are still enjoying their paychecks are toying with the lives of regular people like you and me over political strategies and ideologies. Hopefully voters will keep that in mind when it comes time for the next election.