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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: Legislative hostage-taking hijacks any chance of improving government

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Legislative hostage-taking hijacks any chance of improving government

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

Legislative hostage-taking hijacks any chance of improving government


The 2011 debt limit crisis demonstrated beyond any doubt that our Republican-controlled Congress is willing to do damage to America and its people. They behaved like a kidnapper cutting off a finger and sending it back to distraught and fearful parents to get them to pay a ransom. We understand that Republicans speak for their financial and religious-right masters. They want money. They want power. They want full control. And, who knows who these terrorists are willing to shoot in the head and shove out the door next.

Effective government is a good and necessary thing. Good government serves its people. Government is a forum for debating issues, agreeing on compromises, managing common resources, and enforcing public decisions. Government should not be something that you try to destroy – or weaken so much that it can be bought. In 2011, “Young Guns,” Tea Party freshmen, and other leading Republicans actually called for the government to default – refusing to pay the bill for spending they had previously put into law.

What do these “Young Guns” want? They want to run the town, and they are willing to intimidate any citizen, shoot up any merchant, and
face down any lawman to do it. They want to lock up the sheriff in his own jail and take him out at night to lynch him – or “drown it [government] in a bath tub” as Grover Norquist said. Too over-the-top? Extend the metaphor with President Obama in the role of Sheriff and replay Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying, “Making Obama a one-term president is my single most important political goal.”

Actually, Republicans seem hostile to the idea of America’s entire administrative branch and presidency. Let’s listen, again to their ranch-boss, Grover Norquist: “All we have to do is replace Obama. We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. … Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

Since our founders designed our constitution, America has always depended on distributed power, with checks and balances, between three branches of government. Can you imagine a do-nothing rubber-stamp president? Now image that president appointing whomever he was told to the federal courts, including the Supreme Court! Well, now we’ve got a deal. The big ranchers now run everything. Because they can make any law, the town is effectively lawless. Now imagine that all the preachers were in cahoots too. Yep, that would be the Republican radical religious right.

Of course, all this could never stand. Eventually the citizens would rise up with their sickles and pitchforks and charge headlong into a hail of bullets. We have done it before to overthrow tyranny and oppression and we could do it again. We would do it again. Is that what you really want?
This 2012 election could be that critical tipping point. Are you going to move forward, working together, committed in faith and goodwill, to a better world for our children? Or are you going to sit behind your windows, watching in fear and helplessness while thugs ravage your town, taking anything and everything they want?