There is just no excuse for the travesty being visited on the nation this week (and maybe much longer) by a recalcitrant, spoiled, bullying, self-centered, hostage-taking, and, I think it fair to say, anarchic minority of Republican House legislators. Millions of Americans woke Tuesday morning after a troubled sleep only to be thrust into a vivid nightmare of government dysfunction writ large in headlines and social media posts.
Almost 800,000 federal workers -- many of whom are dependent on their paychecks to meet monthly bills -- are sitting at home wondering how they will make ends meet if the federal shutdown drags on. Local businesses are girding for a period of declining revenue. 401(k) account managers are hunkering down to weather the coming storm of stock declines. Folks who were filling out federally-backed mortgage applications put the paperwork, and their dreams, away for the unforeseeable future. Women and children dependent on federal help for groceries are left holding an empty bag.
Visitors to national parks -- from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon -- are being turned away at congressionally-closed gates. Even the Greatest Generation's World War II Memorial, temporarily breached Tuesday morning by an Honor Flight of Mississippi veterans, was placed off-limits to men and women who fought for the right to go anywhere in America.
And speaking of veterans, there is a very real possibility that their benefit checks will cease, and that veterans applying for benefits, or seeking adjustments to their current benefits, will be frustrated by even longer waits than they already endure. Outrageous.
And all for what? Because a small faction of snot-nosed kids within the Republican Party cannot accept the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 elections and the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The political game did not go their way so they are not only taking their ball back, they are closing the arena in which the game of government of is played.
Let's be clear about this shutdown; it is all about bad sportsmanship and failure to accept defeat, even in the face of the Democrat ' publicly-achieved score -- the election of President Obama and the success of his eponymous national health care plan. The loss -- compounded by a subsequent review and affirmation by the Supreme Court -- stuck in the craws of a vocal, well-funded, and arrogant subset of the Republican Party. In a snit that's worthy of a teenage tantrum, they were eager and willing to place nearly a million federal workers, and the nation at large, in financial jeopardy. It is hostage-taking at a breathtaking level.
There is a process by which laws are proposed, debated, voted on, and, if passed, enacted with a presidential signature. Rarely do both sides win all they want; rarely does one side totally fail. But, when failure to win does occur, when the final tally is so clear as to obviate a challenge, it is a wise team that accepts the score and moves on.
The Tea Party and its adherents seem not to be imbued with such wisdom, despite the fact that by 7 a.m., Tuesday morning, more than one million Americans had attempted to register for Obamacare on the government's website. So many of our neighbors were eager to sign up, in fact, that the site crashed temporarily. I don't know how that translates into public distrust of the new health care system, but apparently the GOP's math works that way. That would be the same math that makes the Tea Party feel good about engendering a pathetic 10 percent approval rating from the American people.
There may be a dark irony to the Republicans' feckless attempt at national blackmail: If the shutdown lasts more a week or two, many of the laid-off workers -- desperate to cut costs -- will turn to the Affordable Care Act for insurance. I'm guessing the longer the standoff goes, the more folks will sign up, but that's a shameful way to have to play the game.