Enough Fun; Now Let’s Grow Up

Enough Fun; Now Let’s Grow Up

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

When a child does not behave, assuming one no longer believes in corporal punishment, the child is sent to his/her room for some quiet time. The child eventually emerges—contrite, apologetic, or at least accepting the fact that he/she did something wrong.  They are then permitted to continue playing with their toys or to finish their meal, etc.  Sadly, this is the precise analogy which comes to mind as one watched the insanity which occurred in Washington over the past several days; with one major exception. These children—conservative Republicans and the House Republican leadership—may well be prepared to stay in their room beyond October 17, at which time the cap in national debt ceiling is due to be raised; when failure to act in time could have dramatic economic consequences.

If the Republicans truly believe that what has been achieved in shutting down the Government is the proper way to govern, then there is absolutely no reason to assume that Washington will be able to function again until the next election. Either we accept the principles that brought America through the past 224 years or America watches as a small group of democrats–actually Republicans–stick their feet in cement, demanding that they will not budge until Ralph and Piggy give them “the conch”.

While this may all be a passing act about which Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton can laugh as they recall 1995/6, the problematic side is that it may not be transitory. Senator Ted Cruz’s performance on the Senate Floor last week, rallied on by Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul, and encouraged by an enormous influx of campaign funds for the Tea Partyers, was not only absurd and obnoxious, it was very scary. These are not children playing games but many in America truly appear to be enjoying the spectacle. 

The major problem in this entire charade is that many people do not understand that the fight is not over Affordable Health Care, but about how America is governed. When a bill becomes law, lawmakers on all sides accept the fact that a good fight was waged, the law is the law, and they move on.  Every time a group or a party loses a fight in Congress—or the White House has a veto overridden—they cannot announce that they will no longer partake in the process. Governing is a serious environment not one in which the American people should be re-acquainted with Dr. Seuss.

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