Editorial: Give it up already

Kingston Times Editor Dan Barton.

Kingston Times Editor Dan Barton.

‘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.

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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.

There are 10 comments

  1. gerald berke

    The damage is already done: this public thinking about the unthinkable makes the deed a lot easier to do… that shit ought never to go on the table in the first place. Like “when you’re out late sometimes I think I’ll go out and get some stuff myself, even though I never would really do it.” Right.
    I don’t think you do anyone any favors by expressing your doubts on Affordable Health Care… why you insist, along with other supporters, of shooting yourself in the foot by using politically loaded and counter productive words: you really must be famiiar with the writings of George Lakeoff http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/person/21
    The Republicans, the Tea Party People… it is important to recognize the kind of thinking that is involved, this orthodoxy, indeed, the very processes at work that sustain this kind of thinking, the organization and structure of the current House, no opportunity at all for comradery… like the Frenchwoman who dispatched her philandering husband, once, rather the dispatch a good woman every week, the real problem needs to be recognized, and there are any number of ways to solve it.
    It is especially valuable to recognize the kind of thinking at the core since it is not restricted to the Tea Party, not at all.. it’s used by “us” too… consider that the Tea Party (wrongly) thinks the country is sinking into destruction, a fall from grace, a crushing financial and moral calamity while “we” seek to lure them away from the abyss they see with a litany of what can only be mere inconveniences in comparison… when someone is perched up on the ledge, the problems they are causing, say, the traffic snarl: that’s not going to get them down.
    Jerry Brown, Governor Moonbeam, as he was called, said fix campaign finance, fix money in politics, or nothing else is going to be solved: that’s an example of looking and directing people towards a root cause.
    So, whenever you find yourself writing about one of the symptoms, that’s a really good time to trot out what you might think is a doable, long term solution… remind us. Remind yourself too.

  2. admin

    My preferred health-care solution? I’m with Art Richter – Medicare for all, with supplemental plans people can purchase to enhance their coverage if they like.

  3. Sean Ogden

    Let’s get one thing straight: this is Barack Obama’s and Harry Reid’s shutdown. The GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund all of government except the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the president and Sen Reid didn’t get 100% of what they wanted in the CR, it was their choice, and theirs alone, to close the government. Remember, elections DO have consequences, and keeping the GOP in control of the House is one of them.

    Is there anything unconstitutional about what is happening here? Not at all. But why is this being called the GOP shutdown when the events leading up to it show otherwise? I find it odd that the editor doesn’t discuss this, but I will leave it to him to answer should he chose. In a world where the leader actually leads, especially if he really didn’t want a shutdown, he would have signed the CR, then negotiated keeping Obamacare alive. Here’s a reminder: a park service ranger was quoted as saying they were told to make life as difficult for people as possible. There’s your president, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Make It Hurt! Just like he did with the sequester.

    Then there is the “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.” meme. To that, I simply reply that slavery and Jim Crow, popular tenants of the Democratic Party in the respective days, were also recognized as the law, passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. So?

    Finally, for the life of me, I can’t see why anyone would still be in support of this law when the damaging economic effects were being felt even before the $636 million fiasco of a website went live. The law was written specifically to cause the damage it is causing. Full-time employment being reduced to part-time or no-time (aka layoffs). Family members of employees being dropped from coverage. Small businesses intentionally down-sizing so as to not feel the wrath of this law. And after all is said and done, the CBO states that 30 million people will STILL be without insurance. Wasn’t that the number being tossed around by Mr Obama in the 2008 election? And the ACA cost from CBO estimates has ballooned from over $900 Billion to over $3 Trillion. And with the same 30 million people uninsured, was it really worth it?

  4. gerald berke

    I appreciate Mr. Ogden’s views… that he takes the time to express fully what he feels…
    one thing: what are the damaging economic effects? are these projections or measurements?
    Another thing: Jim Crow and Slavery were indeed Democratic Party views, but do note that is when the Democratic Party was the party of the south…. they became Republicans in the face of civil rights. Similarly, southern Baptists emerged when the Baptist Church opposed slavery… even so, that does not invalidate the ruling of the Supreme Court… they were trying to interpret the constitution literally, as some still do, vis Citizens United …. those terrible Democrats of yesterday and precisely today’s Republicans of today…
    And I believe Mr Ogden is right, the House may indeed be acting within Constitutional Limits… but it may justly be viewed that they are pushing those limits… they are establishing terrible precedents for brinkmanship… I don’t believe we could cite another case where a Congressional minority has locked up the House and given the key to the majority leader and uses that to block government funding in general in an attempt to stop the funding of a single piece of legislation…
    All of the modern democratic countries have health care programs that do more and cost less… only in the United States does the public welfare of business trump the public welfare of affordable health care.

    And as far as the differences between the Democratic Party and the Republicans: I do not believe, again, that there is any instance, where the loyalties of the Democratic Party were such that a minority faction could wield such power… Republicans who will not vote with that minority are overtly threatened with a crushing primary battle with funds coming from big out of state private interests…
    It does seem that it has become the nature of the Republican Party and Republicans that support the party to be far too certain they are right and therefore act with a confidence that is not appropriate for representative government.

    1. Sean Ogden

      Mr Berke, are you aware that 80% of the GOP members of the House voted for the Civil Rights Acr of 1964, compared to 61% of the Democrats? Are you aware that 82% of the GOP members of the Senate voted for the Senate version? Without the Republican support of the Civil Rights Act, it doesn’t become law. Also, due to that support, why would the Southern Democrats switch to that Party? Save for a couple of exceptions, it didn’t happen!

      Bob Parks writes about the myth of the Dixiecrats switching parties in a piece here: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-dixiecrat-myth You might want to check it out.

      It seems, Mr Berke has either forgotten or ignored the fact that the shutdown occurred because of the actions of the President and the Senate Majority Leader. So who is actually pushing the limits?

      The notion that “All of the modern democratic countries have health care programs that do more and cost less” is patently false. You fail to recognize that all of these countries are forced to ration health care. To say that everyone in those countries gets health care when they need it for as long as they need it is a lie. Eventually, there is a bureaucracy that determines where the healthcare resources are best used because there is never enough resources there. Remember the Canadian Premiere that came to the US for a heart procedure? If a true free market approach is used, we will see MUCH better results than anywhere else in the world. After all, it was the free market that got us there in the first place.

      Lastly, Mr Berke wrote “It does seem that it has become the nature of the Republican Party and Republicans that support the party to be far too certain they are right and therefore act with a confidence that is not appropriate for representative government.” I see it the other way around: that is how the Democrats behaved to pass ACA. In looking at all of the backdoor deals made and the ambiguity of the details of the bill before passage (see: “We’ll have to pass the bill to see what’s in the bill.”), can you disagree?

      1. gerald berke

        Yes indeed; the GOP in 1964 was far more just a simple conservative party while the southern democrats among others found Lyndon Johnson to be a traitor to the south: the GOP that was the party of Lincoln is not the party of Boehner, McConnell, Bush… the closest thing to a moderate Republican in the race was Jon Hunstman… Huntsman and his ilk have to real place in the party.
        The CR needed to fund the government is supported by the majority of Democrats and quite enough Republicans to pass but it is kept from reaching the floor, according to recently adopted house rules, that requires the permission of just one man: the majority leader of the house… who is representing the minority faction.
        I don’t know the number of times the house brought up a vote to rescind ACA, (37 times as of May 2013) and that has been defeated, so whatever the political techniques used to get the majority, there is ample time and opportunity to have made corrections.
        The “conservatives” of this county don’t like bank regulation, social security, medicare or medicaid, environmental legislation and deny scientific projections of climate change or the effect and fossil fuels and human activity. Safely in those warm folds of party we have a nonsensical “science” of Creationists, who hold strong mythical beliefs like Scientologists.
        It’s not the GOP of history, of LIncoln and TR, Eisenhower… it is the corporate equivalent of the Plantation owners of the south, (see “Look Away”, a history of the south in the civil war) ….
        Again, thanks… you can find me on Facebook: thank you for fully engaging on the topic… lets see if we can’t continue looking for facts… I will, I promise be delighted where things I hold as facts are trimmed or reversed… I hope you will hold the same view toward your own facts…

      2. gerald berke

        checked this out: “Bob Parks writes about the myth of the Dixiecrats switching parties in a piece here: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-dixiecrat-myth You might want to check it out.”

        This is a statement quite consistent with saying that the civil war was not about slavery but states rights. In fact, that article only rephrases states rights into “local government”.

        That argument asserts that states rights are so valuable as to accept slavery as a permitted consequence…
        Instead of states rights, Bob Parks suggests that private property is held as inviolable… such things can only be doctrines of faith, like God and not subject to reason… as if private property is an extension of God.

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