If you have been able to pull yourself away from the Olympics, you may have noticed that an entire branch of our federal government has shut down--and it is not due to Washington, D.C.'s record snowfall. I am talking specifically about our Congress, and its inability to pass any legislation on the critical issues facing the country today: jobs, financial regulatory reform, clean energy, and, oh yeah, health care reform.
Now to be fair, it is not the entire Congress, just the Senate. The House has actually passed a bill on almost every one of these important topics. But the Senate has come to a complete and total stop, and it is due to one thing and one thing only--the Republican Party has made the scandalous decision to shut down the legislative branch in a time of national crisis.
And it is not the first time they have brought things to a halt.
Remember 1995? That was the year when Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey made a calculated political decision to shut down the federal government. Remember why? Because Bill Clinton made Newt sit in the back of Air Force One.
Well, they have done it again. This time, however, the Republicans apparently learned something from their failed attempts in 1995. They learned that they do not actually have to shut down the government. Rather, they figured out that all they have to do is get every Republican to vote "no" on every single thing that comes to the Senate floor--regardless of its importance to the nation's health and recovery. Do that and guess what? Our system of government stops working.
Congratulations to the GOP. After 221 years of success, you have officially broken the legislative branch's ability to accomplish its most basic function--produce legislation to tackle the most pressing issues facing the country. Forget about the will of the people. Who cares about that? Election results? Majority rule? That is silly stuff better left in high school civics textbooks.
I am not asking for a panacea of policy agreement or that politicians will stop being political. That is naïve. What I am asking is that Americans stand up and demand their system of government be allowed to function as the Founders intended it to--with open, honest debate on the floors of our House and Senate; with up or down votes on the issues of our times; with majority rule.
All that matters to Republican politicians is that nothing--and I mean nothing--gets done. That is the GOP's political strategy. They do not care that one-in-ten Americans are without a job. They do not care that almost 50 million Americans are without health care, or that tens of millions more are one pink slip away from losing theirs. They do not care that we remain addicted to foreign oil, which is funding the very terrorists our armed forces are fighting against. They do not care if the "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions that caused the Great Recession are regulated or not. They do not care that our schools are falling behind and our infrastructure is crumbling. They do not care that we need immigration reform. They do not care about any of this.
So wake up America. Look at what the Republican Party is doing to our government. They are breaking it. Do you think this is acceptable? Do you think that one day, when the GOP is back in the majority in Congress, this strategy of reckless obstructionism will not be used in retaliation against them? Republicans are setting the most dangerous precedent possible for the long-term health of our legislative branch. It has to stop.
Is it obvious that all the GOP cares about is winning. And by them winning, we are all going to lose.