‘Tolerance always has limits — it cannot tolerate what is itself actively intolerant.’ — Sidney Hook
Dear House Republicans and their supporters:
Hi. It’s me, Dan, editor of this paper. People who write editorials, and Lord knows I’ve done this a lot in my own opinionating, are prone to hyperbolize, exaggerate and otherwise tediously overstate to make their points. And when it comes to the shutdown and debt ceiling thing, it would be the easiest thing in the world to crank out over-the-top rhetoric, sturm-und-drang bombast and push the Godwin’s Law envelope to its tearing point.
But I’m not going to. I am just going to simply state that it’s time to give it up. If you all truly love this country, truly respect the spirit of our Constitution and balanced system of government and want to be part of solving our nation’s problems, as opposed to misusing your power to make them worse, you’ll reopen the government and not allow the United States to default on its debts.
More knowledgeable people than I can tick off the harm the shutdown has already done to people who have nothing to do with Dem against GOP against Tea Party. (As a Hyde Park resident, I can tell you about the anger I feel when I drive by the chained-up Roosevelt and Vanderbilt gates and am told that attempting to go inside these places will get me charged with a felony. A FELONY.) They can also tick off the far worse consequences of a default, but one thing I will list here is that the inevitable post-default tightening of credit will hurt the most the people you guys hold up as paragons of virtue: small businesspeople and entrepreneurs trying to get ahead and create jobs, and the people who work for them. (Big corporations have been stockpiling huge stacks of cash ever since the last recession; they’ll be fine.)
But really, it must be clear to you now that you are only hurting yourselves. As the shutdown entered its second week, all sorts of bad news for you guys has come across the transom, with both national and local implications. The Gallup Poll finding the GOP national approval rating down to 28 percent. Ow, and indicating that a really substantial majority of us think you’re in the wrong here. This includes the kind of people who are always, always in your corner: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Wall Street Journal, the National Association of Manufacturers. Your colleagues in the U.S. Senate, like John McCain. They all are telling you to put down the gun, let the hostage go, and let the nation open up again.
In these parts, it’s putting one of your own, Chris Gibson, in a bit of a tough spot. A Public Policy Polling survey this week put him behind, 44-33, a generic Democratic candidate before they pointed out that he’s supported the shutdown. Once that was told to respondents, 53 percent of them said they’d be less likely to vote for him. Before all this started, I didn’t give the Democrats, despite all the money they’re poised to pour into this race, much of a chance of beating your guy next year. Now, I don’t know. The longer this goes on, the more difficult Gibson’s re-election becomes and the more the Tea Party label which Dems have been dying to affix to him sticks.
Look, I know you all are having a hard time with Obamacare. I have my doubts, too — I’ve heard it will lead to cheaper rates for some and I’m happy and support the expansion of coverage to people who were shut out, but my personal jury is still out until I find out how much I, who like millions of other people gets health insurance through his employer, am going to have to pay. There are a lot of unknowns, I grant that.
But it’s the law. It was passed by Congress, signed by the president (not a plus in your book, I also grant) and upheld by the Supreme Court. If you don’t like it, and I know you don’t, your redress can be found in any Social Studies textbook. Get enough of your people elected to both houses of Congress and your person in the White House (or two-thirds majority in both houses to override a veto) and repeal the law. What’s going on now may be legal, but it’s not right and it’s disrespectful to democracy. It just makes you all look desperate and a bit deranged.
Further, putting the country in a place where it may default on its debts potentially opens the door to global depression. If you all don’t get real this coming week, I would support the president invoking the 14th Amendment or minting the trillion-dollar coins or pretty much anything he’d have to do for that not to happen. You may recall reading about someone asking Benjamin Franklin at the end of the Constitutional Convention whether at the end of it we had a monarchy or a republic. Remember the reply? “A republic, if you can keep it.” Keeping this Republic, paid for with so much death and treasure, requires a respect for the rule of the majority and changing minds through persuasion, not coercion. I know you think you’re right, but this stance isn’t persuading anyone who isn’t already persuaded.
So, for the good of us all, including yourselves, give it up already, House Republicans. You’re on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of reason. If you persist, it’ll only get worse for you from here. Yours Truly, Dan.