Point/Counterpoint: Both Parties at Fault for Government Shutdown
by Peter Remsen on Friday, October 25th, 2013
(the counterpoint to this article can be seen here.)
America’s inefficient political system stems from a Republican dominated house and a totally independent Democratic Senate. Yes, the populist House of Representatives is mostly Republican. Yes, the more elite Senate is mostly Democratic. Yes, various members of the Republican Party crusaded against Obamacare at the last moment. However, both sides have contributed to this conflict. To condemn an entire political party as “insane” is absurd; the American people have a right to be represented by their elected leaders. Both sides of the aisle have displayed an obstinacy that is crippling our country and humiliating us in the world’s eyes.
The Republican Party, struggling to continue its feeble existence, resorted to last-ditch efforts in an attempt to change the system one last time, a phrase embodying every political action the Republican Party has made within the past year or so. This endangered species faults those who are not as “fringe” as the GOP is now. However, one cannot tar all conservatives with the same brush. Nearly no politician, Republican or Democrat, seems to have the common sense and the patriotism necessary to look past petty feuds. But decisiveness, not obstinance, commands the respect of the people.
President Ronald Reagan embodied this mantra of older Republicanism and demonstrated common sense and patriotism. In his famous speech next to the Berlin Wall, the Republican President stated to the world and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev that “if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
The power of Mr. Reagan’s challenge cannot be paralleled by a politician today. Let us pretend to replace Mr. Reagan with a member of the current Republican Party or President Obama: “I stand here shaking with rage directed at this wall, constructed to impede the rights of man. The United States feels sorry about your condition, and politely asks Mr. Gorbachev to demolish this wall. If he doesn’t feel like it, that’s ok, too.”
Contemporary Republicans will continue to ignore the future as long as modern Republicans only focus on the deadline of their next election date. Senator Ted Cruz’s ridiculous recital of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor perfectly exemplifies the GOP’s childish impulse to further block any sort of progress to pander to their far-right constituents. Their legacy is one of short-sightedness, inability to compromise, and remarkable irresponsibility.
Yet Republicans are not solely responsible for the fiscal crisis that currently afflicts our nation. While the Democrats have not been as divided, President Obama and his cohort of Senators have shown the same obstinacy as the Republicans. Refusing to accept Republicans’ initial demands, the Senate rebuffed the House at every turn. The olive branch put forth on Oct. 15th finally extinguished the demand for the defunding of ObamaCare. With nothing left, Republicans made one final push to end federal health insurance subsidies to high-ranking government officials, including Congress, a move essentially eliminating the policies that elevated some officials beyond the effects of ObamaCare. Even then, the Senate refused, denying the Republicans an opportunity to save face.
Both parties are equally flawed. Politicians from every era seem to care solely about themselves, resulting in standoffs such as the government shutdown. We need policy makers who are willing to set aside their personal greed to help our country, home to Democrats and Republicans alike.
If you live in a glass house labeled “Democrats Only,” you shouldn’t throw rocks at a different glass house labeled “Republicans Only.” Perhaps you should ask yourself why you built houses out of glass, when you should have worked together to build something greater than two groups of old people battling each other for bragging rights, something that would reinvigorate the American people with confidence in their elected representatives. If the two parties truly seek the greater good, if they seek prosperity for America, then Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, please tear down these glass walls.
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