Last night, I caught wind that the government shutdown was about to come to an end. So, I figured it would be a good time to watch the end of this Kabuki theater moment. I was not disappointed. Particularly after the House of Representatives took their vote – and the Teahadists found themselves on the outside looking in on their own party. There were a handful of weird moments that placed themselves right into my Path for the night. One particular one has stuck with me through to this morning.
I have been listening to analysts after analyst try to lay blame for the entire shutdown at the feet of one party or the other or at the feet of the President or the minority grouping of the Teahadists. But in retrospect, I can only lay the blame in one place – at the feet of the United States Legislative and Executive branches. Ok, that’s two…but in essence – I’m blaming all of them. Not a select few. Government needs to take its cues from the citizens and the manner in which they accomplish things in their lives. Everytime the average citizen goes to the grocery store to shop – there’s a degree of compromise at work. You can’t buy all the stuff you want to, but you know the items that you definitely have to have. But you can do without an essential here or there for a week longer, so you compromise by leaving off the laundry detergent – and getting the box of Fruit Loops instead. Its a matter of looking at what’s completely necessary versus what is not needed at this moment.
When we compromise with people – we seek the common ground between us. We work at our issues from that vantage point, since its an agreed-upon starting place. But here’s the problem with this entire budget fiasco that I see… The Teahadists decided not to fund a program that was defined by law. Not because there wasn’t budgetary room for the program – but merely out of spite towards the President. The Senate would not accept that aspect of a budgetary bill and rejected it. Furthermore, the President stated that he would veto any bill that did not provide funding for this program. Now, there is a major ton of common ground to work from in all of this – I won’t analyze this, because the news media has already done that to death. But that common ground was definitely there. The House would not accept that the common ground would be a workable solution, and dug in at the line they originally proposed. The Senate, did not wish to capitulate to the House’s demands – did not seek the common ground either – and dug in. The President, in my opinion, missed a golden opportunity to showcase himself as a communicator and a diplomat. Instead of stepping forward and showing the common ground to both the Senate and the House – and displaying some understanding of the situation by backing off on his own demands…he choose to stand by the sidelines and repeat that he would veto any spending bill that did not have the ACA program funded completely. A three-way standoff.
What it resulted in was a complete fiasco and circus. Media were all over the place, documenting federal employees who were without pay. Congressional Teahadists came out to the Federally run monuments, which were closed during the shutdown, and grandstanded for their position – posing with World War II vets and encouraging these citizens to “storm the memorial” – a clear violation of the standing law of the moment. Apparently, the law does not mean much to the Teahadists – particularly when they can make themselves seem to be the rebel leaders against the dark, evil Empire and Darth Obama. An excellent play against the limbic brain – the part of our brain that processes concepts of symbology. Americans identify with the underdog.
Two weeks ago – the Pagans here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area came together for a Pagan Pride Day. Everyone set aside their conceptions of who was “right” or “wrong” in terms of theology and religious belief. And we celebrated who we are – Pagans. Congress is meant to be symbol of the cross-section of the makeup of Americans. People who came together as a large cross-sectional set of different cultures and heritage – and made a country for ourselves. We have a bicamerial legislature that is MEANT to support the perspective of differences and conflict. But the idea wasn’t to dig in and become entrenched in a single idea. The idea was for discussion to take place, common ground to be found, and compromise to rule the political day. We have 435 Congressional representatives, 100 Senatorial representatives, a President, and a Vice President. 537 people. There’s no way every single one of them is going to agree to any piece of legislation – but surely, these people can do the one thing we’ve elected them to do – find solutions to administering the government on behalf of the people through compromise. The shutdown is over. The dust is beginning to settle. And I have never been more ashamed to be an American than I have been through this entire process.