Make no mistake about it. The US government has been taken hostage by extremist leaders in the Republican party. This, as many have already called it, is political terrorism. These extremists (somehow elected to important governmental roles) have decided to cause tremendous damage to the US — to hundreds of important US services, to our economy, and to our national security — unless their demands are met. And, yes, their demands are also extreme and counterproductive. Let me run down a short list of what these hijackers are aiming at.
7 Reasons Extremist Republicans Have Taken The US Hostage
1. The key focus right now is the Affordable Care Act (rebranded as Obamacare by Republicans, which Obama and team decided to happily adopt and use as well). Extremist Republicans in Congress are unwilling to fund the United States government unless the Affordable Care Act is stopped. How ridiculous is this? The Affordable Care Act was enacted by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the rightfully elected president of the United States. It was challenged legally and upheld by the US Supreme Court. It is about to go into effect, and extremist Republicans have decided to try to use their last insane idea (beyond starting a civil war) to try to block it. Before moving on, please take a moment to learn a little bit more about the Affordable Care Act:
Why is this especially ridiculous?
Aside from the fact that, as stated above, the Affordable Care Act went through tremendous political trials before being enacted, there are several reasons this is ridiculous:
- The Affordable Care Act (hereafter referred to as Obamacare for brevity) is not even considered progressive by those on the left. Numerous concessions were made, including some very important ones, in order to get it passed by an extremely controversial Congress. It doesn’t compare to the universal healthcare (with a public option) that the left really wanted, and it is actually similar to proposals prominent Republicans had made early in the healthcare reform discussions.
- Obamacare will help the majority of the United State population, by far. It not only provides affordable healthcare to those who couldn’t afford healthcare previously, but it also provides very important benefits to the average Joe or Jill. For example, it doesn’t let insurance companies deny you insurance based on pre-existing conditions, it expands the services insurance companies are required to cover, it lets young adults stay on their parents’ plans for longer, it doesn’t allow insurance companies to limit the amount of lifetime care you can receive, it doesn’t allow different insurance rates based on gender, and it guarantees that you get a refund if insurance companies spend more than 20% of your money on overhead (CEO salaries, marketing, etc). Anyway, watch this for some more information on Obamacare:
And definitely this one:
And this one:
Before moving on to the other reasons why Republican extremists have taken the United States hostage, one more important thing to note about this demand is that it’s simply one of the most ridiculous the GOP could make. This is Obama’s signature achievement. He spent years fighting for it. He obviously thought it was a necessary priority. When he thinks about what he will be remembered for, and what he wants to be remembered for, enacting Obamacare is probably the first thing that comes to his mind. He’s not going to agree to undo all of it. And, remember, this has already been passed by Congress, supported by the US Supreme Court, and funded. US citizens can sign up for health insurance through the new system starting today.
From Barack Obama: “The Affordable Care act is moving forward. The funding is already in place. You can’t shut it down.
“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job.”
2. Congressional Republicans have become extremely sore losers. Competition and sports are very central parts of US culture. And one of the big lessons we learn as we grow up competing and playing sports is that we shouldn’t be sore losers. If we lose, we lose, and we have to accept that. However, it seems that political leaders in the GOP never learned this. They are the kids who freak out and destroy the game room when they lose one game. They don’t have a majority in the Senate and their presidential candidates lost in two straight elections. They should accept the fact that the American public is not on their side. However, instead of doing so, they have decided to shut down the US government unless President Obama and democrats in Congress essentially become Republicans and do everything the extremists leading their party want. It’s insane. It’s a sign that these people frankly do not understand that they are not the majority.
3. Congressional Republicans are spoiled. To be honest, this is partially the fault of the Obama administration and Democratic members of Congress, but it is even more so these Republicans’ fault (and perhaps their parents’). Obama and Democratic leaders have given into the absurd demands of these extremist Republicans too many times. In fact, it has simply become a habit on the Republicans’ side to threaten to shut down the government unless they get their absurd demands. They’ve made at least 21 such hostage demands over the past few years. As Judd legum writes at that link above:
“Since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, they have repeatedly attempted to use the prospect of a government shutdown or a debt default as leverage. A shutdown would furlough close to a million federal workers and cut off essential services for millions more Americans, while a default on U.S. debt, even according to Speaker John Boehner, could devastate the global economy. While the recent debate has focused on Obamacare, that is just the latest in a series of demands made by Republicans.”
Unfortunately, giving in to ridiculous demands has also become the norm. But I am hopeful that Obama and leading Democrats have now seen that there is no end to the political terrorism, and that they need to change strategy. These extremists in the GOP are not looking to compromise. They are looking to turn Democrats into Republicans, through the US of citizen hostages.
4. Extremist Republicans actually don’t want government. This is not true for the majority of Republicans, but I think it is true for some of the Republican leadership. They are so intwined in the world of corporate greed, and so confused in the thought that the US would be better without any governmental involvement in the economy, that they actually support anarchy. They support a governmental structure akin to that in Somalia, or a dictatorship (as long as they are in the dictator role).
It is simply crazy. Yet it seems to also be a sign of how disconnected the US public has become from the structures that made the US a great country and let it remain so successful for so long. The US was not built on anarchy. The US was not built on people holding their own country hostage. Yet, somehow, people and even leaders in one of our two main political parties seem to think this is the best way forward.
5. Extremist Republicans in Congress want the Obama government to fail. One of the heads of the Republican party said several years ago that their #1 goal was to make Obama fail. It wasn’t to help the country. It was simply to target failure of the head of this country… and thus, of course, the country itself.
How would all their claims and threats of collapse turn out if they let the government succeed and prosper under Obama? How would thing turn out if they let the country see that Obama’s policies have helped the majority? Yes, Republicans want the country to have problems. They want the country to fail under Obama. Unfortunately, these people are putting resentment above the good fortune of the United States. They should not be in a leadership role.
6. The mass media lets this happen and even fans the flame. The mass media has an inane idea that there are always two equal sides to a story, especially a political story. It acts as if both sides should be presented on the same level. It treats insane demands as equal to common sense. So, it contributes heavily to the spoiling of extremists in government and this political hostage-taking. Republican leadership sees this, and it takes full advantage of it, and it will do so until the mass media realizes that it must not only report what people say but also pay attention to facts and common sense.
7. They genuinely think the US is not going to hold them accountable. Yes, these extremist Republicans realize that the general public doesn’t pay close attention to things and that they can fool much of the public with simplistic talking points. They think they are going to get away with and maybe even gain power from holding the US hostage and spinning the story.
This is Political Terrorism and Treason
To try to sugarcoat the extremist GOP strategy here is not going to help anyone. This strategy of threatening to shut down the US government, and actually doing so, is terrorism and treason. They have sacrificed the country for a few absurd ideals. They have sacrificed our economy, environment, safety, and reputation in the eyes of the world simply to demand things they could not win through a fair election process. They were not voted into power by the US majority, yet they are demanding that Democrats become Republicans (in deed) if these Democrats don’t want to see their country greatly harmed.
It is terrorism. It is treason. There are no better words to describe this.
We might say that there are two silver linings here. One is that the majority of the US public does actually see that it is these extremists discussed above who are responsible for shutting down the US government and the many services on which we rely. It is good that they probably won’t get away with it. It is good that this may finally wake moderate conservatives up to the fact that these people are bloody crazy, and that they are not serving the interests of the common person. Hopefully this will lead to a momentous shift in US politics in which the US citizenry finally says they have had enough of this extreme, terroristic Tea Party.
Really, if you haven’t watched these yet, these are must watches:
Notably, I actually watched these videos after writing this article.
To close, these quotes from the president himself (via USA TODAY) are actually a good summary of the situation today:
Obama took to his Twitter account to comment on the failure to fund the government. “They actually did it,” he wrote. “A group of Republicans in the House just forced a government shutdown over Obamacare instead of passing a real budget.”
Obama reiterated that he would not sign any bill that seeks to dismantle the law. “One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election,” Obama said at the White House.
They actually did it. A group of Republicans in the House just forced a government shutdown over Obamacare instead of passing a real budget.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 1, 2013