Well, they did it.
The people who are supposed to be governing our country just proved they can't.
The approval rating for Congress has reached an all-time low. Only 10 percent of the American people think they're doing a good job. We're not quite sure where that 10 percent comes from. Perhaps leftovers from the O.J. Simpson jury pool. Maybe friends, relatives and staff members, or people who are functionally brain dead (which would include the congressmen, themselves).
Even if this shutdown lasts just one day, it will cost the government $1.4 billion just to shutter up everything. All this in the name of fiscal responsibility? They might as well just be burning the tax dollars we send them. Not one of them has the right to complain about government waste any longer.
And all this for what? A principle? What principle? That if you don't get your way you'll hold the entire country hostage. We know better than to negotiate with hostage takers.
Meanwhile, people will go hungry in this country because of this. Does any one of the millionaires in Congress care?
If this lasts two more weeks, our military will be handed IOUs. How many landlords or mortgage companies or merchants will accept an IOU, especially when it's backed by a promise of our totally dysfunctional government? Thank you for serving. (Editor's note: Between writing this commentary and it's publication, Congress passed and the president signed a law making sure the active duty military got paid).
Two of our least favorite people are Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. But give them credit (oh, that hurts), when they had the opportunity to pull this same kind of stunt during the Bush administration, they didn't. In fact, throughout our history, there have been a lot of times when this insanity could have been pulled by either party over one issue or the next, but only now is it being tried. Have they been putting stupid in the water that Congress drinks? Is that what's in the Tea Party koolaid the entire GOP seems to be gulping down?
Think about it for a minute. If this works, what other issues might a minority voice in Congress use to get their way? Assuming that some day the power balance will have the Republicans in power, why shouldn't the Democrats that would then be out of power pull the same stunt for one of their pet issues? If this works, it sets a political precedent that will guarantee a dysfunctional government for ages to come. Run through your list of hot-button issues and imagine what one side or the other not only could do, but almost certainly will do, in the future if this tactic works.
Furthermore, if this lasts too long, or gets resolved in the next couple days but then is repeated at the end of the month, right or wrong, the Republican Party is going to get blamed. But then trying to blame anyone else is like the guy who runs a red light and then blames the driver he hit for getting in his way.
As a result, we could be watching the potential destruction of the Republican Party as anything other than a party of wingnuts. Which isn't true and wouldn't be good for the country. Most Republicans we know are not crazy or unreasonable.
But the politicians don't care right now because they know they'll get re-elected anyway. Traditionally, better than 85 percent of incumbents are re-elected -- even the one's responsible for that 10 percent approval rating.
We're not supporting Obamacare. We do think the legislation is flawed and wasn't what a lot of us were hoping to see. But what happens if it actually works? The GOP has gone "all in" on this single issue at the expense of all the other needs of this country. It has become critical to them that Obamacare fail, because if it doesn't, if it works at all, they're going to look like fools. They've left themselves no wiggle room, which is never a good tactic. But rather than fixing the law, or offering a viable alternative, they simply want to reject the concept entirely (of course they do, look at the taxpayer-supported health insurance they get -- they don't need to struggle like other people to find affordable health care).
The party needs to show its skills at how to make things work, which it used to do quite well, not how well it can break things, which is what it's doing now. But then it's always been easier to destroy than create. And it takes less imagination.
Every time the government shuts down, it hurts people -- the very people Congress is supposed to be protecting. The economy suffers. Our world reputation suffers. It tells us our elected leaders are incapable of talking to each other and meeting each other half way, which used to be the hallmark of the American system, a system that made us number one in the world.
But if the government continues to operate as it has for the last few years, this country will begin a downward death spiral that won't stop until we crash. And then both parties will blame the other for the wreckage.
-- Kelly Everitt