After 16 days, the government reopened last Thursday and hundreds of thousands of people are back to work. The threat of default is off until Feb. 7, 2014. The question we need to ask is: Will Republicans realize they lost and that shutdowns don’t help anyone?
What changes can Washington make that will be seen by the American people in a positive way? How do we move toward balancing the budget and bringing a sense of sanity back to our political system?
The time has come for moderates in both parties to rise again. There will always be a far right of the Republican Party and a far left of the Democratic Party. But we have seen that when those groups are ascendant in either party that party usually loses. They create havoc, but in the long run they aren’t the ones that can get people together to move the nation ahead.
Today’s far-right hero is Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and he is scary. Listening to him last Sunday in an interview he did with Dana Bash of CNN, you had to acknowledge how smart he is even if his thought process seems deranged. He finds the words to make what he nearly did to the nation make some kind of sense and to justify his efforts to close the government and nearly drive the nation into bankruptcy. This when we know that what he actually did is cause interest rates to rise upping the cost of mortgages and student loans; send workers’ 401k retirement plans down; cause veterans and seniors a delay in receiving the benefits they are entitled to; and hurt small businesses across the nation by taking billions of dollars out of the economy. Yet he had the empathy so when he talked about doing all this to help others, he actually sounded plausible to some. Again the man is smart but very scary.
People like Cruz and his acolytes in the House of Representatives have actually been referred to as anarchists and that label may be appropriate. The Republican Party’s internal civil war was highlighted on NBC’s Nightly News, when anchor Brian Williams asked John McCain (R-Ariz.) a question about relations in the Senate and then cited a comment Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) made in which he accused McCain of supporting al-Qaida. McCain responded “Sometimes comments like that are made out of malice, but if someone has no intelligence I don’t view it as being a malicious statement.”
Unfortunately today even those with no intelligence both in and out of Congress manage to get their voices heard. They have their own media outlet and it’s called Fox News. There are Americans listening only to Fox and the likes of Rush Limbaugh who get only part of the news. They don’t hear the other side so it’s hard to blame them for not understanding what is going on. They hear from those like former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) who now runs the once respected Heritage Foundation and turned it into an organization to prop up the likes of Cruz and the Tea Party. In doing so he makes once respected conservative Republicans seem like the moderates of the party.
Thankfully, Americans have a knack for eventually seeing through charlatans. They eventually abandoned Joe McCarthy when they realized the snake oil he was selling and they will eventually abandon Cruz. But until those in that alternate universe where they exist, some call it the Tea Party, others call it Texas, wake up, their actions will continue to cause untold suffering.
The nation is facing many difficult issues. We are still coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. We are facing numerous foreign policy issues including ending the war in Afghanistan; dismantling and destroying chemical weapons in Syria; working to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon; and trying to restart the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks to name just a few. The world is a complicated place and we are the only remaining super power. Our position in the world will only remain strong if we can work out our domestic problems and come to some agreement so that we can once again be governed in a sane way.
We’re left to hope that Republicans like McCain, McConnell and Boehner who say they won’t shut the government down again will stand strong. The time has come for sane people to resume control of the government.