Shutting Down the Government – Democracy Held Hostage

Last night the Republican House fulfilled their promise of shutting down the government and in the process held democracy hostage. In a Democratic political system, there are typically two parties opposing each other for the right to govern. This right is earned through an election in which the winning party is given the mandate to implement their agenda. Elections are the hallmark of democracy and America has been a beacon for democracy.

When Barack Obama became the first African American president in 2008, the Republican Party launched an overt assault on his presidency. This assault was designed to undermine and destroy the presidency of a duly elected man by the American people. This assault reached its climax last night when the Republicans followed through on their threat to shut down the government.

After President Obama prevailed in the 2012 presidential election, the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party threatened that they would shut down the government. Perhaps no one paid serious attention to them or attempted to discourage them from going down this irrational path that certainly could not be considered a good political strategy. So last night the Tea Party got what they wanted. Their success in doing this was due to two reasons – the lack of real leadership in the Republican Party and blind hatred for President Obama.

The Republican Party has failed to recognize two core principles of a democratic political system. The first principle is that the party that forms the government has a mandate to implement their agenda without obstruction from the opposition party. The second principle is that when the Congress passes a law, it stands as the law. If there are problems with the law then there are measures by which it can be amended. The Republicans, however, are not interested in this, they want to repeal it carte blanche. These actions conflict with the core principles on which democracy is built.

The Affordable Health Care law (Obamacare) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. In addition, the Supreme Court upheld this law thus affirming its constitutionality. The Republican Party has ignored these things and instead shut down the government because they do not like President Obama and anything he does. Unfortunately, for the American people, the Republican Party was able to do this by virtue of the fact that they control the House.

Because the Republican Party has made it their strategy (from early in the first term of President Obama’s presidency) to undermine and destroy President Obama, it is clear that shutting down the government is not about whether the Affordable Health Care law is a good law or not, but simply because of their hatred for the president.