As someone who fashions himself a natural born anthropologist, my goodness, in the current affairs of our culture, these appear to be the most grave and serious times. Our penchant, anymore, for cultural suicide, of which founding father, John Adams, pessimistically forewarned, seems, sadly, to be bearing out before our very eyes.
Defying that prediction of Adams’ has been the hallmark of what’s called American Exceptionalism. Certainly President Obama was wrong when he ascribed our exceptionalism to our foreign policy. Such a notion left Obama wide open to the rebuke of Vladimir Putin in a recent New York Times opinion piece.
But despite the truth of what Putin stingingly had to say, this nation has been historically exceptional. At the heart of American exceptionalism has been our capacity to reconcile, in our vast, disparate nation, national differences through deferring, ultimately, to the political process and its progeny: the rule of law.
But to watch today the Republican Party attempt to take hostage the very welfare of the Republic by shutting down the government and, even worse, by being willing to kill the full faith and credit of the nation as the price to be paid for the enactment of the Affordable Health Care Act, a law passed in Congress and after having been fully debated in two presidential elections is, to say the least, to put the kibosh on our democracy.
Remember the president won this past election, only 10 months ago, by 5 million votes. And let us also not forget the Affordable Health Care Act passed the constitutional muster of the Supreme Court last spring.
Thus, for today’s extremist congressional Republicans to attempt to negate the president’s premiere political achievement by placing a noose around the neck of the economy is to attempt, in effect, to negate Obama’s presidency. Make the wrong move, that is, implement Obama-care and our nation’s financial credibility will be left to twist in the wind — amounts to nothing less than an attempt at a coup-d’état. Obama, if he capitulates, would be reduced to a virtual president, a president in name only.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his extremist congressional Republican crew, in effect, will have commandeered the good ship American Exceptionalism. The age old way of political strongmen exerting whatever it takes to gain control is in full operational force in, of all places, the United States House of Representatives.
That extremists huddle there and rationalize shutting down government and putting government in a position of defaulting as leverage to repeal or delay any aspect of the Affordable Health Care Act — why, that’s not representative government being transacted, that’s political terrorism being concocted, settled law being obstructed. We all saw what happened when Lehman Brothers defaulted. Imagine if the federal government does? That’s what today’s extremist Republicans are toying with.
Absolutely no president, Obama or anyone, can allow governance of our country to be wrested away by terrorism.
Tim O’Leary is a longtime Homer resident and observer of the political scene.