The Message that Americans Should Recognize in the Government Shutdown

The shutdown of the government on October 1, 2013 is the proverbial writing on the wall for Americans. The message from this writing is that the political system has been badly corrupted and if not given urgent attention could lead to greater problems. All political systems are inherently imperfect and have some degree of corruption. That is to be expected when you have a system that is exposed to the influences of power (power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely), big money, greed and some people who are inept.

So how did the political system become so corrupted that it compromised the government of the most powerful nation in the world? The answer to that question is there are several corrupting elements that seeped into the political system to bring it to the current state of a government shutdown. Three major corrupting elements are:

• The Tea Party infiltration of the Republican Party
• Corporations are allowed to contribute unlimited amount of money into political campaigns
• A biased right-wing media

The emergence of the Tea Party in American politics coincided with the election of the first African American president in 2008. From the beginning, the Tea Party advocated provocative messages and ideas that included their favorite mantra “We want our country back.” Their controversial messages and ideas combined with their strong dislike for President Obama have introduced more conflict and divisiveness in the political process.

Once the Tea Party members gained a foothold in the U.S. Congress and senate, their voices became louder to the point that it seems like they have taken over the Republican Party. Take for example the freshman Senator Ted Cruz who created a frenzy and media attention with his mantra of repealing and defunding the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). Encouraged by the right-wing media and the inability of the Republican Party leaders to rein him in, his effort is what led to the shutdown of the government.

It is hard to believe that the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party could becomes so powerful to shut down the government in an attempt to defund and repeal Obamacare. Certainly, this cannot be considered a good political strategy especially when you consider that the Congress approved Obamacare, the Supreme Court upheld it has been constitutional, and President Obama won the election for a second term. These facts should have made the GOP realize that Obamacare should not have been used as an issue to shut down the government. Only political neophytes motivated by their narrow self-interest would take such actions.

The fact that the radical Tea Party seems to be in control of the Republican Party is a good indicator of another serious problem for the GOP – lack of real political leadership. No established organization of any type would allow radical elements to join the organization and they certainly would not let them take over the organization. The only way that happens is if the organization lacks real leadership. Often times we hear the pundits commenting that the Republican Party is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan. They are correct, because despite Reagan’s political flaws, he certainly would not have allowed the Tea Party to hijack the party.

Part of the problem with the political system being corrupted originated from the Supreme Court’s decision to allow corporations free reign to contribute unlimited amount of money into federal campaigns. According to reports by MSNBC, organizations like Citizens United (founded in 1988 with major funding by the wealthy Koch brothers (Charles and Bill), pumped large money into the Republican Party to promote their agenda and not the agenda of the American people. What this means is that politicians are no longer accountable to the people who elected them but to these powerful and wealthy powerbrokers. This kind of practice certainly undermines democracy and is not good for America.

Adding to the problem of a corrupted political system is the extremely biased and unprofessional coverage of political issues provided by the right-wing media. The responsibility of the media in a democratic society is to provide objective and honest information to its audience. When the media provides citizens with objective and honest information as opposed to propaganda and distorted information, they make better decisions at the polls. Unfortunately, the right-wing media has contaminated the political system by their blind support of the Republican Party. To be fair, MSNBC does partisan coverage of politics also but not to the same degree as the right-wing media.

Since President Obama became president in 2008, the right-wing media, and especially Fox TV news and Rush Limbaugh have devoted their message of promoting or encouraging propaganda, conspiracy theories, and misinformation against the President. Even more disturbing is that the right-wing media seems to play a major role in influencing the Republican Party policies, talking points, and doing damage control for the party. This certainly does not contribute to a healthy democratic process as it only serves to create divisiveness, controversy and cynicism.

The Republican Party should be glad that they are not a private corporation, because they would have become defunct from making poor decisions. Corporations know that they have to operate in accordance with the demographics of the market. The Republican Party has not recognized this as they are still operating on the delusional idea that they can undermine President Obama simply because it’s easy to blame a black person and get away with it – even when the black person is the president of the United States of America.

Had it been a white Democratic president who initiated the Affordable Health Care Act, you would not see the kind of political shenanigans by the GOP to repeal it, defund it, and finally shut down the government. If the white president’s Affordable Health Care Act was approved by Congress, deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, and had won the last election, the Republican Party certainly would not make this law an issue and would not dare consider shutting down the government. Yet they do this with impunity to President Obama.

It may seem harsh and unreasonable to say that the Republican Party and the right-wing media’s unprecedented treatment of President Obama are motivated by his race. The fact that the blatant disrespect, propaganda, and conspiracy theories are to the nth degree unprecedented, makes it easy to conclude that race is the primary factor behind the GOP’s treatment of the president. How could it not be when it is the single difference between President Obama and other presidents?

The Republican Party and the right-wing media by using a strategy of shutting down the government to defund and repeal Obamacare, need to recognize that this is not the way to run a government. Such actions do not bode well for the democratic system of government that has made America a model for other countries to emulate. And it certainly does not bode well for the American people who feel the strain of a political system that has been corrupted.

The writing on the wall is a clear message that reform is needed for a political system that is broken and corrupted. This reform is needed to ensure that one party in one House cannot recklessly shut down the government over a law that has been enacted. Three reforms that can be implemented to salvage the political system are: 1) Corporations and wealthy individuals must not be allowed to subvert the government by making unlimited financial contributions to political campaigns, 2) Political issues like defunding a law and the debt ceiling must not be used as a tool to shutdown the government, and 3) The media must be censored to prevent them making baseless arguments that are propaganda and conspiracy theories.