Friday, October 4, 2013

Government Shutdown Edition - A Fox Leading the Hen House

[Warning: This one's on politics.]

In psychology, they call it the self-fulfilling prophecy: to believe something so completely that it becomes true through your own actions.  And, it’s at the heart of the political crisis playing out before our eyes.   

For decades, we’ve witnessed the constant assailing of our federal government by a vocal corner of our political spectrum. Their refrain that this government of ours is wasteful and inefficient; that it’s hampering our economy; and that it’s even a threat to our freedom and our American way of life.

We all buy it on some level, because nobody supports waste, economic failure or threats to our freedom.

When we do so we ignore that most of us support the fundamental goals at the heart of our government spending:  a strong and capable defense; the education of our kids; safety in our homes; an environment free of pollutants and toxins; a safe and reliable food supply; reasonable access to higher education; Social Security for older Americans; a safety net that prevents our most destitute from starving in their homes or dying on the streets; and, now we can include access to affordable health coverage.  We want to do it as efficiently as possible, but we support these goals.

We often forget that, buying into how much our government sucks, because sometimes it really does.  When we see the cost of a hammer at the Pentagon, or we hear about federal employees partying-up in Vegas on our dime, we all get pissed off. 

You know what else should piss us off?  When some among us root against our democratically-elected government, hoping that it fails.  Because, that’s what is happening today. 

The evidence is all around us.  Just look how excited some were that government websites went down on the first day of the Affordable Care Act.  Proof again, in their eyes, that our democratically-elected government can’t do a thing right.  How can we ignore that these sites went down because of too much traffic, caused by a  mass of Americans desperately looking for an affordable answer to their healthcare needs.  

Here's one idea: make the shutdown permanent. 
Why didn't we think of that before. Thanks, Fox News.
While this occurred, House leaders were digging in on the federal government shutdown – indicating they won’t relent until their demands are met.  They refuse to wait until the next election, or until the people actually side with them in this epic battle over how we, as a nation and as individuals, provide for our health in an affordable way.  They’d sooner shut down our federal government than let this law try to solve a long-standing problem.

It's frustrating to watch.  But what’s more frustrating is why they are doing this.  

The shutdown is described by many as a battle over the Affordable Care Act.  And it is that.  But it’s also much more. 

Sure, these House members don’t like the ACA.  But it is just a hill on which to make their stand – one battle in a wider war against everything our federal government and our nation has become, pretty much since the Great Depression.

If you’ve visited the Fox News website since the shutdown began – which I have, just to see what the color of the sky is in that alternate universe – you’ve likely seen proof of this wider war in one blaring headline asking one simple question:

"Budget Battle, Partial Shutdown Raises the Question:  Can We Do Without It?"

Without it?  The federal governments' body is still warm, and they want to kill it more.  

The news site goes on, in much smaller text, to list as sub-heads a few departments and agencies, such as HUD, Education Department, NASA, and of course, the punching bag that is the IRS.   (Sure,  I could live without the IRS.  But I don’t know if our country could).

So there it is.  In criminal law it’s called “Mens Rae.”  Guilt of the mind.   And it shows the real motive for the shutdown.  They want the federal government to fail.  They think it’s failure would be a good thing – and what they’d get to do next would be good for them and for their bank accounts.

In psychology, it’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy.   In America, we can just call it the conservative agenda: 

We want to cut our federal government because we think it sucks.  Now we’re making sure it sucks.  And then, we’re going to try and cut it some more.

The truth is, its easy to hate Washington.  To forget all our democratic government does and all our nation stands for.  It reminds me of a scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian, where the PFJ is sitting around a room hating on the Romans.  John Cleese's characters asks the group:  "What have the Romans ever done for us?" 

The answers are not what he expected, ending when he has to ask the question one last time: "All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"  

Fox News asked their own version of this question, what could we do without?  But I think this budget battle raises a different question.

Today, we are a nation that feeds its poor, educates its young, defends its borders, protects its environment, keeps promises to its seniors, promotes fair play, and does what it can to foster opportunity.   And here's the question:  Which of those should we stop doing?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice essay neighbor. Let's hope the extortion ends soon so that we can give the ACA the fair shake it deserves. It's quite ironic that we have a plan that was the brainchild of right which they now want to totally disavow.