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Just about a year ago, the familiar refrain leading up to the 2012 US Presidential Election boiled down to the basic tenet of American conservatism vs. progressivism: how much should the government take care of its people? More specifically, how “big” should the national government be, and what should be its role in the everyday lives of the country’s citizens? One of the major themes of the Republican National Convention was “We Built That”, an ethic encompassing the idea of personal empowerment–that individuals and businesses are capable of quite a lot on their own. It rejected the idea that “no man is an island”, insisting that hard work and determination are the only necessary ingredients for sustained success in the United States. A parallel theme of the parasitic “entitlement class” also took shape. Although every Republican would love to forget Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment, it’s instructive. It underscored and perpetuated the belief of millions of people that a large portion of American society is comprised of freeloaders. The “builders” work hard to make this country great, and the “moochers” suck it dry without contributing anything of value.

These themes are straight out of the RNC play book. Many Republican strategists still hold these beliefs. They argue that “smaller government” benefits us all. Who needs regulations? Let Wall Street run rampant. Dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency! Those nice corporations–after all, they’re “people”, just like you and me–would never overpollute the air water.

Well, those same leaders who have so strongly espoused the “builder” mentality have become the destroyers. In a purely self-indulgent, crybaby way, they held the entire country hostage. Make no mistake. This is not hyperbole, and it’s not a partisan view. Because a few select Congresspeople (mostly self-professed Tea Party Republicans) decided they hated President Obama, or the Affordable Care Act, or any accomplishment President Obama stood for, SO much, they decided to convince the rest of their caucus in the House to tie any budget bill to the defunding of the law they so lovingly call “Obamacare”. What the hell is this? They knew the president would not dismantle his “signature achievement”. They knew that the new fiscal year began on the same day that Americans could start registering for exchanges on the new healthcare plan. So why not put two and two together? They voted 45 times to repeal the ACA! The Democratic-led Senate turned it down or didn’t even bring it up for a vote all of these times because if you feed the trolls, they just bother you more. President Obama would not sign a bill “gutting” the ACA. The Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the law. President Obama won reelection, campaigning on the passage of the ACA. Public opinion polls consistently state that Americans feel favorably about the new healthcare law. If all of this weren’t enough, anecdotal evidence from people whose lives were saved due to provisions in the new law speak much more convincingly than those who don’t want to pay for it or who decide it’s government overreach.

I’m not going to get into an in depth discussion of the Affordable Care Act here, but the backbone of the legislation–the individual mandate–is a long-promoted REPUBLICAN idea. It is based on the principle of individual responsibility. Republicans hate moochers, remember? Progressives aren’t thrilled with the idea that the system is nowhere near a single payer (national healthcare) system, and there are quite a few issues with it; however, a minority of people can’t just do whatever they want to get rid of a law they don’t like because they “think it’s a bad law”. Too bad.

Those Tea Party Republicans in the House–who are mostly ideological people from small towns who have never held office before, and have no idea how the government works–were buoyed by more visible people such as fellow Senate newcomer and all-around attention whore Ted Cruz.
They pushed the country into a partial government shutdown. (I’m going to include a post on a government shutdown primer since not everyone knows what the shutdown entails.)

This has grave consequences for the country. True “patriots” would never do such a thing, and especially for purposes of bald self-interest. And in many cases, the term “self-interest” is completely apropos since some conservative Congress members are very worried about primaries in their gerrymandered districts posed by even more ultra-conservative candidates put up by ridiculously wealthy donors whose money (“speech”) can be spent nearly unfettered thanks to our lovely Supreme Court, whose justices, as we know, are ALWAYS looking out for the best interests of the people.

The government shutdown, now in it’s 11th day, shouldn’t have happened at all. We’re getting closer and closer to the date at which the national debt ceiling must be raised. As has been repeated constantly, paying off the debt is paying for costs already incurred. The county had to pay for money it already spent. Deciding to default (as some Republicans would like to do) is irresponsible at best, and ridiculous and disastrous at worst. The United States has never defaulted on its debt in its history, and the majority opinion on doing so is that this could very possibly equal a worldwide economic recession or depression, plus countless other terrible ramifications.

Republicans who claim that it’s now time to examine the dangerous path of ballooning deficit and the exploding debt (here’s looking at you, John Boehner), really have audacity. If they were so concerned about the economy, they wouldn’t have set in motion a government shutdown that has cost the country billions if dollars, and put nearly a million directly out of work. They wouldn’t play a game of brinkmanship with the possibility of default if the president and Democrats don’t agree to their ridiculous demands of significantly cutting entitlement programs.

Senate Democrats have already agreed to a compromise with House Republicans to pass a budget with spending at the levels House Republicans wanted (continuing the sequester), and “Speaker” Boehner reneged on his deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Boehner admitted this to George Stephanopoulos. Democrats already compromised with Republicans! “Piecemeal” legislative efforts by the Republicans or blaming Democrats and the president in front of National Parks and monuments for their closures as PR stunts are not “compromises” by the Republicans.

This is their fault. And they wanted it this way.

The once-proud “builders” are happy to set the fire, and to stand there and watch it burn.

Members of Congress continue to receive paychecks even as “nonessential” government workers do not, and the city of Washington, D.C. goes unfunded. Worse yet, members of Congress receive the gold standard in healthcare plans, and to date, no Congress member has turned this down. The people can pay for their perks, but not get paid or receive healthcare at an even slightly diminished cost?

I’m pretty sure that’s called mooching. What entitles the select few to receive benefits when others work hard? What ENTITLES them? Many of them aren’t even working for their constituents!

And conservatives say they hate an entitlement class…