October 9, 2013

MANDELBLATT | How the Mighty Have Fallen

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What happened to us?

When we set aside the jokes — a Mean Girls interpretation of Congress or Miley Cyrus’ impersonation of Michele Bachmann — we are left to understand the reality of the fact that our own government decided to shut itself down. Over 200 years ago, our forefathers created a government that would defy precedents and become a lasting democracy. And with the idea that the will of the people shall govern, Americans were enabled with the power to “form a more perfect union.” As time has elapsed, though, we have lost sight of what it means to be a union, and have instead allowed partisanship dictate our actions, or lack thereof, rather than the needs of the people.

This nation was not created as a mere trial to recreate Athenian Democracy, it was created with a promise of permanence. But, as President Lincoln warned, “a House divided against itself cannot stand.” And today, the partisan divide is unwavering on the subject of ObamaCare, leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work and faith in our government on the decline.

Last week as the government shut down, the insurance exchange of Obamacare commenced. For the first time, Americans can search for health care plans, to begin on the first of the new year, without fear of denial due to pre-existing conditions, gender discrimination, unjustified price hikes or of losing care before a major medical procedure. For the first time, Americans need not forgo health care because they cannot afford it.

The Affordable Care Act has met all criteria of checks and balances — it has been passed by Congress, signed by the President and ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court. And now, a poll conducted by Morning Consultant found that “two-thirds of voters want to give the law a chance to succeed.” The people have spoken and the Constitutional process has been upheld in its entirety, and yet, Congressional Republicans continue to hold Obamacare as a bargaining chip after 43 failed attempts to repeal it on their own.

Speaker of the House John Boehner refuses to let the end of a shutdown come to a vote, because he and his colleagues are so blinded by their own agendas and need to “win” that they have forgotten what it means to govern, what it means to serve as a member of the American government. As Joshua Lyman, Deputy Chief of Staff of hit T.V. drama The West Wing, would say, “We have to call [Boehner] out for what he’s really doing. It’s a coup.”

When Egypt overthrew its elected president Mohamed Morsi in July, it was seen as a threat to the democratic system. Because, despite dissatisfaction with a leader, one cannot stage a coup, or in our case, shut a government down, in protest. The history of United States military intervention is a timeline of attempts to spread democracy worldwide and to demand that other countries follow suit. Yet, how dare we call ourselves the champions of democracy when our leaders allow a week of government shutdown elapse — at an unbelievable cost to the people — with no promise of change on the horizon.

We are Americans because we believe in a government for the people, we believe in democracy first and we believe no persons should fear the government’s power. But, my, how the mighty have fallen.

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