This has never been about Republicans fearing that the Affordable Health Care Act would hurt the people of this country. If they really thought that, they’d let it go into affect without a whimper and when it failed, they could say, “See? We told you so!” No, this was about fearing its success. It’s also about political extremism. And racism.
So on day one of the government shutdown, many of us are carrying on with our lives, unsure how it will impact us directly but knowing there are those who are feeling it – from the 800,000 federal workers being furloughed to untold numbers of low-income pregnant women, new mothers and children who are affected by defunding of the WIC program.
So as we wait to see events unfold, I’ve gathered some comments from a couple of my favorite journalists and other news sources that I think can help us think about what this particular moment in history means.
Like Davey D, who is one of my favorite writers and though folks often associate him with hip hip journalism, he is one of the clearest thinking commentators on social and political issues facing our society today. Here's his cut-to-the-chase take on the government shutdown:
“Today's harsh and sobering lesson behind the Government shutdown is that extreme greed, blind hatred and deep seated racism held by those responsible is such that it has no shame, knows no boundaries and is devoid of any moral compass and compassion..
As my good friend and scholar professor Tina Bell Wright has often said and teaches her students, 'They do not care about you'.. The evil behind these actions is hard for many to come to terms with.. So folks hold on to hope that people driving this country into the ground and squandering resources will somehow see the light and change their ways.... They will not! For some pleasure is derived in seeing the pain and suffering in others... There are sick and demented people sitting in the halls of power and the best way to combat them is to maintain your humanity, recognize the humanity in your family, friends and neighbors and do what u can to make sure the most vulnerable among us are comforted and have what they need. Know this for what it is!”
Dave Zirin is another great journalist who mostly covers sports and politics. On the shutdown, he had this profound food for thought:
"Imagine if there was a left fringe in congress that acted like the right fringe: shut down the government unless we had.... Single payer healthcare? A war crimes tribunal for Dick Cheney? Free abortion on demand? Abolition of the federal death penalty? Amnesty for all undocumented immigrants? But we don't have a left fringe in congress and never have had one. If you can explain why this is a country with a congressional right fringe but not a left fringe that operates beyond symbolic gestures, then you can explain so much about the way ideology, class, and power function in the United States."
New York Times economist and columnist Paul Krugman writes in his blog:
“There’s a definite class-war aspect to this fight, pitting the interests of the .01 percent against those of lower-income families” and concludes that “wealthy individuals bought themselves a radical right party, believing — correctly — that it would cut their taxes and remove regulations, but failed to realize that eventually the craziness would take on a life of its own, and that the monster they created would turn on its creators as well as the little people.”
My War Times brother Gary Hicks found this piece from Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire and amply entitled "The Reign of Morons":
“We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too. We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government.”
USA Today (yes, that USA Today) issued this editorial today which is interesting if you keep in mind that there are in fact, deep divisions among the powers-that-be aka the ruling class:
“This shutdown is not the result of the two parties acting equally irresponsibly. It is the product of an increasingly radicalized Republican Party, controlled by a deeply disaffected base that demands legislative hostage-taking in an effort to get what it has not been able to attain through the electoral process or the judiciary.”
And as much as I have issues with the Declaration of Independence because, after all, it was written by and for the interests of rich white men, I do so like this line:
"…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men(sic), deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project
Felicia Gustin has been with War Times since the beginning. She currently works at SpeakOut, a national organization working primarily with colleges, universities, and high schools and dedicated to the advancement of education, racial and social justice, leadership development and activism. She is a long-time activist in international solidarity, peace, racial justice and labor movements. She was a journalist for 10 years in Cuba and is currently working on several projects - an historical memoir and a poetry collection, among others.
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