Throughout the history of our great nation, we have triumphed over countless threats to our democracy. The worst wars and recessions could not halt the American Democratic Dream. The hallmark of our envied process has always been that after elections, the losing side is willing to accept that they lost. In America, the losing party accepts that the political process represents the will of the people. The focus becomes trying to change enough voters’ minds to win the next election. Recently, the American process has been increasingly put in jeopardy by a risky and irresponsible political strategy.
In 2010, Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Since then, Republicans have made repealing Obamacare a central part of their party’s platform. After not winning the seats they needed to repeal Obamacare in the 2010 and the 2012 elections, Republicans look like they have decided to give up on the democratic process. Rather than focus on winning the votes needed to change, delay, or repeal Obamacare, Republicans decided to adopt a new strategy.
Republicans decided that the only way to get Obamacare repealed was to threaten to shut down the government. This is why Republicans passed only four bills to keep the government open and all four included scrapping Obamacare. With their votes, House Republicans were saying they would shut down the government if they do not get their way on Obamacare.
It is clear Republicans were not bluffing. Children are being denied cancer treatments, veterans are not getting their GI benefits, millions of federal workers are out of work, military families are being asked to sacrifice again, and federal parks and monuments are indefinitely closed because Republicans would not agree to fund the government unless Democrats agreed to scrap Obamacare. After carrying out their threat and still not getting their way, Republicans have upped the ante. Now Republicans are threatening to not pay the government’s bills, thereby destroying the economy, if they do not get their way.
Simply put, Republicans decided that blackmailing the Democrats with destruction of our nation’s economy and government could get them what voters would not — a chance to repeal Obamacare. It is frightening to see one of the two big parties give up on the hallmark of our democratic process.
Can you imagine Democrats using the same irresponsible strategy? What if Democrats threatened to shut down the government or default on our debts if Republicans did not agree to repeal the Bush tax cuts on millionaires? Democrats have tried and failed in negotiations to get this passed for years and did not win the needed votes in 2010 or 2012 to pass this over Republican opposition. By the Republicans’ logic, Democrats should threaten an economic catastrophe to get what they want passed. It sounds ludicrous, but this is the Republicans’ strategy. Republican politicians truly believe that a long shot at repealing Obamacare is worth risking economic calamity.
The problem with this strategy is that it hurts America. Aside from abandoning the hallmark of our democracy, Republican threats to default seriously frighten the world. It made the front page of nearly every major newspaper across the globe. Our treasury bonds are the underpinning of the entire world’s financial markets, making continued confidence in them vital to global financial stability. This is why the bond market has gone so wild in the last few days. Every day we get closer to defaulting on our nation’s obligations, we do long-term harm to the economic strength of our nation and the world economy.
Republican politicians such as Speaker Boehner often say that, “all I really want is to have a conversation about the debt with the president.” If that were true, then why do the ONLY bills passed by Republicans to fund the government fail to include ANY reforms aimed at curbing the debt? Instead, they took our current budget and added scrapping Obamacare. Speaker Boehner is smart enough to know that he cannot be honest with the American public about his party’s strategy because Americans really do believe in Democracy. That is what makes us so special. At least it used to.
Chris Crew is a resident of Elma.