It’s day seven of the government shutdown, and issues have yet to be settled. Still worse, many fear that the government shutdown is an ominous precursor to the eventual budget ceiling debate. Economists fear that not raising the debt ceiling, meaning that the United States defaults on its loans, would be cataclysmic, and the recession would take decades, yes decades, to recover from. And as expected, polls are overwhelmingly blaming Republicans and their Tea Party kin for the shutdown. How the shutdown will progress is still up in the air. Most of the political punditry is focusing on ‘who’s winning’. Democrats are calling for Boehner to allow a yes or no vote. Republicans are less united and many are trying to now initiate a grand bargain, but the state of the Republican Party is best stated by Representative Marlin Stutzman, “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” What a mess.
But there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Congressional aides to Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner are (anonymously) stating that Boehner will try to use moderate Republicans and Democrats in the House to pass a debt ceiling increase. More so, Boehner reacted to the notions of ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ the shutdown:
“This morning, I get the Wall Street Journal out, and it says, well we don’t care how long this lasts, because we’re winning. This isn’t some damn game.”
More so, Representative Michael G. Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania said that he believes that Boehner will ask for Fitzpatrick’s help to raise the debt ceiling.
Opponents are angry, and rightfully so, that Boehner waited until now to start reviving his moderate stances; had Boehner simply moved to a clear resolution vote to keep the government open the resolution would have certainly passed with Democrats and moderate Republicans supporting the bill. Better late than never, and better that Boehner will not let the country default on its loans while also marshaling the House to do its job.
Tea Partiers celebrated at the capacity of a minority to destabilize our government and for some that is reassuring. To the rest of us, this prospect is horrifying. When a splinter cell of a party can force our entire government, economy and country to brinkmanship, there is something terribly wrong. And when that minority according to lifelong political commentators Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein, is, “….ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” We can conclude that our democracy is in jeopardy.
Of course there are factors at play here, mainly gerrymandering of districts so that the majority of voting districts are either strongly republican or democrat. Nevertheless, Boehner needs to reassert himself and put this country back on track. A federal government without the ability to pass legislation, or fund programs or itself is a government that is sick. If this trend of brinksmanship and obstructionism by the Tea Party continues, the future of our country and our government is execrable. Whether you take your tea with big government or little government, what keeps the United States a global power and a secure state is a functioning government. Take away government and we risk not shaking, but capsizing the proverbial boat and bringing the global economy with us.
As the debt ceiling approaches and day five of shutdown continues all we can do is wait and say: save us John Boehner, you’re our only hope.
Taylor Tielke, 2015, is a politics blogger for the Concordian. He is a junior from Yankton, South Dakota and at Concordia he studies political science, global studies and history. Besides the Concordian, Taylor is involved with Concordia Forensics, peer mentoring and Concordia’s Secular Student Community. In his free time Taylor reads the news avidly, works out and enjoys tea. Taylor finds politics, political philosophy, religion and foreign policy particularly intriguing topics.