The Tea Party and the Republicans could have led a much-needed national debate about the role and size of the federal government during this shutdown, but they haven’t.
The Tea Party had gained national attention by creating uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is the moment when they lost the attention and a lot of respect. In this moment, they lost it:
Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s antics had gained the national spotlight by undertaking this fauxibuster. If he had taken this newfound attention seriously, his Wendy Davis emulation might have the catalyst for a national discussion about the role of the federal government and whether undertaking national health insurance is a program that Washington should undertake at this time, if at all.
But he didn’t, the Tea Party and the rest of the Republicans didn’t, so they weren’t really serious defunding “Obamacare”, after all. This single focus during the launch of multiple states’ Affordable Care Act exchanges was good theater, but dumb political strategy. This idea had already been defeated in the national election. It is too early to determine whether the most important part of the ACA will succeed. The basis for the overall success of the Affordable Care Act is getting enough young and healthy adults to sign up and be covered. If they do, their premiums paid and low health care expense counterbalances the cost of providing health insurance to those who would not be covered or could not afford it previously. Whether that premise is correct remains to be seen.
It’s not as if the October 1, 2013 country wide start date snuck up on them. Parts of the ACA have been implemented on various states, like Massachusetts, over the past 4 years and they work. Like Cruz’s self-promoting stunt, the opposition has failed to provide a rational purpose to be against it and present an alternative policy and programs.
From my work as a management consultant, I know that it’s very easy to criticize what has already occurred, especially if you weren’t responsible for it. It’s very easy to say, “I would have done this or I would have done that” – after the fact. It’s much harder to take a difficult existing situation, turn it around and make it better. I can’t just go into a new client company and say everything that management has done is bad. I may have done the same things at that time. Nor is it constructive. The focus should be on making the company’s products, practices and policies better. All collective energies are needed in doing this. Change of any kind takes more energy and focus to effectively happen.
I was chosen to change the bad, keep the good and not kill the business in the process. The Tea Party and Republican Congressmen and Congresswomen were chosen to keep the good, change the bad, and not shut down the government in the process. They need to help focus the nation’s energies on creating jobs, rebuilding the infrastructure, and improve all levels of education. What they are doing is a diversion and a distraction, and a destruction of what’s really important.
And they are going to pay the price for this in the 2014 Congressional elections.
The Affordable Care Act was designed to help solve three very difficult problems:
1. slow down rampant double-digit health care inflation,
2. stop the burdening of emergency rooms by the uninsured for treatment of non-critical health issues,
3. promote more access to health care, especially in states, like in the South, where access is often difficult or non-existent.
That’s why and where Ted Cruz and his Tea Party and Republican counterparts have missed a golden opportunity. They could have provided a better solution to those three problems. They have provided none. They have had to fall back on a disproven and self-destructive ideology – anything the federal government does is bad and wrong. They ran to be part of a national government that they didn’t want to be part of?
They had the opportunity to lead the national discussion about what the role of the federal government should be in the 2014 presidential election. They have had opportunities to lead the national discussion about what the post-war US role should be in making and keeping the world peaceful. They have had opportunities to lead the national discussion about what to do with the monies saved by a reduced military. They have had opportunities to present realistic ways to stimulate the national and world economies. They have failed, and failed, and failed to do so because they have no new ideas, just the same failed ones.
They chose a chameleon and courtesan to lead them in the 2014 presidential election. They have chosen a charlatan and comedian to lead them now. It’s just hard to take the Tea Party and the Republicans seriously when they aren’t serious about governing. They’re just whores and clowns.
What the shutdown has done is to showcase the number of beneficial government programs, like death benefits to the families of dead servicemen, meals to the elderly, disabled and children in poor families, and care of the national parks. Those who were previously unaware are being hit square in the face by the hatefulness and stupidity of what is being done by what’s being taken away from them. They are finally seeing how the irrationality based upon racism and partisan politics harms it directly. This is what the federal government really does and what it does is not evil or wrong. It is doing what it was being elected to do.
The Federal Government is not being run by Dr. Seuss. It does not provide green eggs and ham. It does help and effect people’s lives. Really.