America awoke this morning to find its government shut down, thanks to Congress’ failure to pass a funding bill. Eight hundred thousand federal workers–including my wife, a staff attorney at the National Labor Relations Board–will be furloughed today. (My wife will go in for the first four hours to carry out an orderly shutdown of the agency’s services.) Elsewhere, all over the country, government services will be curtailed to varying degrees. If the ‘fiscal impasse’ continues, matters could worsen:
By Oct. 17, Congress must raise the nation’s debt limit to pay for bills already incurred or provoke a globe-shaking default.
And all of this is the consequence of an utterly misguided effort to repeal a piece of legislation–promised by a twice-elected president–that is the law of the land: passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and upheld by the US Supreme Court in the face of numerous legal challenges.
The members of the Republican Party–now, more than ever, utterly beholden to the American fascist fringe–who have engineered this fiscal disaster have spoken glibly of carrying out the will of the ‘American people.’ Their confusion is never more starkly on display than when they invoke this term. They seem to care little for those who elected Barack Obama, for those whose representatives voted for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in two legislative bodies; they seem to care little for the American constitution, in light of those provisions this act emerged as appropriately constitutional. They remain fixated instead, on their indefensible ideological convictions, for the sake of which they are willing to deny hundreds of thousands of American’s their wages, and to deny millions others their services.
I’m not sure what language to use to describe those members of the Republican Party who have decided that this is the correct way to wage their battle against the ACA. And neither am I entirely sanguine that they will face an electoral backlash; after all, these are elected members of the US House of Representatives, who were voted into power on the basis of an electoral manifesto that promised as much sand in the wheels of the US government as possible. The vulnerability of the US constitution to acts of political hijacking like this, if it wasn’t already manifest in the first Clinton and Obama terms, are even more manifest now.
The tragedy of modern American political life is that real radicals are not in the streets, seeking real, systemic change in a broken, corrupt, system, one beholden to Wall, not Main, Street; instead, another variant is in power, dedicated to making sure that millions of Americans cannot secure healthcare. It all sounds like a bit of a cruel joke, and I really wish it was, but it isn’t.
Note: A brief accounting of our personal costs thanks to this shutdown: my wife faces an indefinite furlough; we have already paid for this month’s daycare so it might all be money down the drain. We are, however, not too badly off compared to many other Americans. For the time being.