One reason that political junkies rarely go on the wagon is that there is a never ending stream of issues, opinion, controversy, and on rare occasions, law making and governance pouring out of Washington DC and state capitals. When you mix the partisan vitriol together with the Internet, 24 hour news networks, the lamestream media, right wing radio, Fox “News” and all the other 21st century debate cauldrons, it’s no wonder it is easy to stay hooked on politics.
Those of you paying attention are aware that Republicans in the House and Senate have brought governing in Washington DC to a standstill. This should not come as a surprise to anyone; they are the political party which campaigns on its fear and loathing of government. When your stated goal is to shrink government small enough so that it can be drowned in a bathtub, the obstruction and resulting gridlock is not something gone horribly wrong, it is the expected outcome of conservative policies.
The ongoing, years long tantrum that Republicans have been throwing over the Affordable Care Act is a perfect example of political cynicism, professional incompetence and actively working against the best interests of the American people solely for political gain. The United States is the only first world country that does not provide universal healthcare coverage for its citizens. In 1993, when Hillary Clinton addressed this issue, Republicans and their business allies rose up and fought Hillarycare to a standstill. What they proposed as a conservative alternative was a Heritage Foundation market based healthcare plan, which left the insurance companies still in control of American’s health and well-being and guaranteed them healthy profits, as well.
Former Republican presidential candidate, Willard Mittens Romney, enacted that very same plan during his single term as governor of Massachusetts and it remains hugely popular there today, with 90% of the citizens of the state covered by comprehensive, affordable medical insurance. However, when President Obama proposed the same plan to cover the rest of America, in the form of the Affordable Care Act, the crazy on the right exploded and has never looked back.
The Tea Party came into existence because they used August town hall meetings to demagogue the issue, and then rode the lies, exaggerations and fear mongering to victory in the 2010 midterm elections. The far right Tea Party now controls the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and Congress has ground to a standstill. The House has now voted 40 times to repeal the ACA. In the beginning, they even threw in the canard of “repeal and replace” to make it more politically palatable, but it has long been evident Republicans have no Plan B to replace the ACA. It is now just all repeal, all the time and if you are uninsured and get sick, something, something freedom, and go to the emergency room.
The next chapter in this political kabuki theater will occur next month, when it comes time to pass continuing resolutions to fund the government, followed closely by a vote to raise the debt ceiling, so America can pay the bills for programs it has already voted to fund. The ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party is currently campaigning to shut down the government and default on our debt payments unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded.
After 40 meaningless repeal votes that accomplished nothing, we now have on the table a threat to disrupt the domestic and world economies, put millions of American citizens at risk and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States in the world economy, just to destroy Obamacare. Since it was their conservative, market based plan in the first place, you be wondering why. They want to deny Americans affordable healthcare in order to prevent Democrats from claiming the credit in future elections for a popular and effective health program. It is all about the politics; it’s never been about the medicine.
In the meantime, Republican intra-party infighting over conservative purity, combined with 2016 presidential nomination jockeying and Tea Party primary threats to “moderate Republicans” guarantee continued sound and fury, signifying nothing. But it will be ongoing political entertainment for the reality based community and politics junkies across the spectrum. Pass the popcorn and settle in, this is going to be fun to watch.