As we draw ever closer to the deadline when America will not honor its debts, it is time to reflect on the state of the union.
This is not like a simpler time when Will Rogers joked about silent Calvin Coolidge’s State of the Union address. Rogers humorously said that Coolidge remarked that the state of the union was fine, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be better, but it was fine.
So what is the state of the union now? To paraphrase silent Cal, it is not fine. In fact it is less than fine, it is horrible. We are witnessing at this very moment the seeds of disunion, germinate and grow to where Congress refuses to keep the government open. Our founders would be aghast!!! How could a few representatives hold the government hostage? How can our representatives represent us if the government is closed. And what manner of men and women would willingly seek to discredit the credit worthiness of the dollar by refusing to honor our debts by refusing to pay our bills? Surely, our founders may have concluded that those responsible for this result must be deranged, seditious or treasonous in their actions.
Let us not blame all of Congress for the madness of a few. What the right-wing can not win at the ballot box they are trying to extort from us all now. They’re actions are the very definition of tyranny.
What is truly amazing through all of this is that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is so weak, too weak to challenge a minority of his own caucus to a vote on both the raising of the debt ceiling and the opening of the government.
Speakers of the past would have personally challenged the recalcitrant members by either threatening them with poor committee assignments or to personally make sure that someone else ran against that particular member in the next election.
The very essence of democracy is at stake. Our system of government does not work when intimidation and coercion are used to win concessions that they could not win at the ballot box.
Nationally we see some states of the union defy the law of the land. They are using the pre-Civil War tactic of nullification to ignore and obfuscate federal law, by not recognizing the ACA’s legitimacy.
Nullification was used by the South prior to the Civil War. Before the Civil War we were states that were part of a nation, and afterwards we became a nation that included states. Nullification was used to divide us. As Lincoln said, we were a house divided against itself. We see the seeds of disunion once again, as political ideology seeks to divide us, and as Lincoln so wisely stated a house divided against itself can not stand.
Our country now faces a threat no less dangerous than slavery. We are witnessing the actions of a few who are quite willing to bring the nation’s economy to a standstill. They have already closed the government and now they threaten our economy. One can not calculate the damage that would be done if we default on our financial obligations. Government is not one big game of chicken to see who will blink first. We need to end this era of ideologically based politics and return to bipartisanship and compromise.