Shutting down government is no way to run a nation
October 16, 2013
America's democracy is built on the principle that the majority rules and that the minority will be heard, even though it may be overruled. Today's GOP has irresponsibly thrown that time-honored philosophy out the window by creating the current government shutdown crisis.
The Tea Party caucus has swung a once-proud party to an appalling extreme. They represent only a small portion of the voting public but insist that their demands must be met for the federal government to operate.
They don't know what goals they want to achieve aside from hurting the president, and they don't care what price the American people have to pay for their tactics.
This is no way to run a nation. We deserve better.
This scorched-earth strategy, enabled and abetted by Republican leaders in the House, amounts to a dangerous tantrum, but it’s we — the American people — who are left to deal with the mess they’re making.
The root of their argument is that they're upset that they aren't getting their way. I understand their frustration, but there are productive ways to address it. Tea Party representatives should make the case to the public that their views are right, their opponents are wrong and that they deserve to be supported in the next election. Then they should let the people weigh their case and render a judgment at the voting booth.
That's the responsible path, but sadly, it's not the one they've chosen.
One doesn't have to agree with the results of an election in order to respect them. It's ironic that these same legislators claim to be the defenders of our Constitution and our democratic system yet still lead this revolt against the electoral process that led to a Democratic Senate and a second term for the president. This scorched-earth strategy, enabled and abetted by Republican leaders in the House, amounts to a dangerous tantrum, but it's we — the American people — who are left to deal with the mess they're making.
Our current representative, Doug LaMalfa, has joined this tantrum. He and his allies have thrown over the moderates in his own party and ignored the needs of tens of thousands of his constituents in order to play at anarchy. Millions of Americans are being denied essential services so that this dangerous game can continue.
If you ask Tea Party representatives directly what they actually want to gain from this, you won't get a clear answer. The reason is because they don't have one. There's no alternative to Obamacare ready to go and no plan to provide coverage to millions of citizens being failed by the private market because of pre-existing conditions, catastrophic illness or an inability to pay. All they know is that they don't like the Affordable Care Act, and they want it gone. If that means keeping 800,000 jobs from getting done, shutting down vital services and denying paychecks to workers around the country, so be it.
Rep. LaMalfa's actions, like those of the rest of the "Suicide Caucus" — the name conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer gave representatives who think we have to destroy our economy in order to save it — are shameful and truly unconscionable.
The saddest part is that there is common ground on ways to improve the health care law. The Medical Device Tax, for example, has opposition in both parties and could have been repealed through the regular legislative process. But rather than work across the aisle, LaMalfa and his allies are just refusing to work and not letting anyone else work either.
I am running for Congress because I have seen Rep. LaMalfa vote time and again against working families, women, children and steps that would grow and strengthen our economy, all because his right-wing views are more important to him than his constituents.
Our system makes us, the American people, ultimately responsible for our government. It's up to us to make a change.
We need a representative willing to tackle the long-standing problems facing our Northern California rural economy.
We can grow our small businesses, attract new industries and create good, paying jobs if we retake control of our government and get it back to work on solving problems instead of manufacturing them.
And let's be clear, there is a lot of work left to do: Budgets need to be passed, regulations must be streamlined, health care costs must come down, and businesses need to be supported. This will only happen if we restore responsible leadership to Congress and elect candidates who respect the people's voice as much as their own.
Our north state families and businesses are struggling now, but we're ready to grow. Congress should get back to work helping us do that. After all, that's their job.
Heidi Hall lives in Nevada City and is a Democratic Congressional candidate for District 1, California.