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Minority Government At Work

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 Why don't we call these people nihilists? 

By William Boardman  --  Reader Supported News

And what do you see as the end? by []

Is the phrase "government shutdown" actually an oxymoron? 

By the time you read this, the government shutdown may or may not be over, and it may or may not matter to you personally, and it may or may not matter to the country -- depending on the criteria you use to assess it. Those who say it's not actually a "government shutdown" are correct in an obvious way -- it's actually only a partial executive and judicial branch shutdown, with Congress very much alive, well, and dysfunctional as ever. 

A real government shutdown would bring the troops home from their dozens  (hundreds?) of foreign postings; it would free all the prisoners at Guantanamo and other prisons (or, alternatively, leave them locked up to starve); it would leave our privacy unmolested by the dozens of federal spy agencies (but not state or local ones); it would prevent the Supreme Court from further eroding personal liberty (leaving it to the states to protect); and so on, as the sky failed to fall, but got a lot closer to the ground.    

A real government shutdown would effectively take us back to a state of nature, or at least to an eighteenth century, pre-constitutional governmental structure, enhanced by all the modern conveniences we could keep working without Washington's help. That might provoke a new constitutional convention, which is what a busy minority has been after for a long time, and maybe that's the point of all this, but we're not there yet. 

 OK, so this is a fight based on "principles" that no one can state persuasively?

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The impasse of early October is relatively simple in its essence.  The Congressional majority (all Democrats) passed a law, the President signed it, and the Supreme Court ratified it (with adjustments). That's the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that is not well understood and is also in the early stages of implementation, so no one knows for sure how well or poorly it may work, but the absolute certainly of predictions that is will be purgatory or nirvana is easy to come by, at least from people whose job it is to persuade you they know what they're talking about (never mind how wrong they were on the last two or three or four important national issues). 

The Obamacare food fight is bogus at a deeper level as well, starting with the reality that it never had a chance to be the single payer system just about every honest broker acknowledges would best serve the American people.  Democrats don't do that any more (seek to serve the American people), but they like to maintain the illusion, so the party brought in insurance professionals to craft a health insurance bill that would benefit the insurance industry in perpetuity and, with luck, would also improve the health care prospects of some of the millions of Americans currently without health insurance, but not all of them (that would be too much like all the other advanced countries in the world and we have our exceptionalism to protect). 

Democrats defending their own work poses no mystery.  And it makes sense that the public seems mostly muddled about a program that may or may not do them much good, a program that is way complicated and under-explained, and about which the lies have ranged from the predictable to the spectacular. A large proportion of the public is opposed to Obamacare because people want a better health care system than the one that's coming at them. Republican opposition makes sense only as part of a fundamentalist belief system in which the role of government is divorced[ from any effort to promote the common good (or in this case from a program that might promote the common good, even if that's not its primary goal).

What do you do when you can't win within the system? 

The implacable minority opposing Obamacare has exhausted its normal constitutional means of opposing the law, either repealing or amending or postponing it, because they don't have the votes.  And they won't have the votes before 2015 at the earliest (and even then, they're unlikely to have the votes to override a presidential veto).  And from the opponents' perspective, the supporters of Obamacare refuse to negotiate (by which is meant surrender), so their next best option was a government shutdown, even though its impact on Obamacare is next to nil. 

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Freshman House Republican Tom Cotton, 36, a lawyer from Arkansas with degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, explained his party's dilemma with apparent sincerity this way on the House floor (and C-SPAN):

"The House Republicans have acted reasonably and responsibly to act on simple principles: the government should be funded and the American people should get relief from Obamacare.

"We have repeatedly made reasonable and responsible compromises. We couldn't repeal Obamacare, so we offered to defund it. We offered to delay it for one year when the President has delayed so many parts of it himself. Yet the Senate rejected every one of those compromises."  [emphasis added] 

"Hey, who you calling a wacko bird, you idiotic lemming?"

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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