We made it. We didn’t default, and the government is no longer partially shut down. This is thanks to President Obama and the Democratic leadership in both chambers of Congress standing strong together. This is thanks to the hard work of Senator Harry Reid and Mme. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (she’ll always be Mme. Speaker to me).
Politeness dictates that I also recognize the work of Senator Mitch McConnell, but I cannot. I am still angry, and I don’t feel like being polite. I hold McConnell and the rest of the GOP responsible for the shutdown/debt ceiling crises. But, beyond that, I hold them responsible for creating and nourishing an environment of obstruction and opposition, never before seen, that allowed the tea party to flourish, dominate, and finally diminish a party who has “grand” in its name.
Now that it’s over, we have to remember that it’s not. In January we might face another shutdown, in February another debt ceiling crisis. Common sense tells us that it shouldn’t happen again, that those who brought this about have learned their lesson. But I always say that the problem with common sense is that it’s neither a sense nor common. This is especially true if we are talking about the tea party.
But enough talk about them. I want to concentrate on the Democratic party. There is an urgent thing that our Democratic leaders must immediately address: communication. I’ve been harping on this subject forever and a day. You might already be familiar with my Obamacare: That’s Right, Obama Cares! post where I rant about the Democrats’ ineptitude in turning Obamacare into a positive label.
Imagine how I felt when I saw the Jimmy Kimmel’s Obamacare = ACA video. Let’s say that I am still suffering from some type of post-traumatic stress disorder after watching it. My point is that if people in Los Angeles, California, a liberal bastion, like the Affordable Care Act but don’t like Obamacare, even though they are one and the same, we have a huge problem on our hands, and our problem is two-pronged. On the one hand we Democrats are lousy at political communication. On the other hand, we are faced with a well-oiled Republican spin machine that turns their lies into widely accepted beliefs and our accomplishments into lies.
We need to fix this. We can start today. For example, here are two examples from the shutdown/debt ceiling crises that the Democratic Party should make sure most Americans know and never forget:
New York Times: A Federal Budget Crisis Months In The Planning.
But there’s also an abundance of past information that hasn’t been properly used. One of these sources is the Washington Post article written by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein in April 2012, entitled, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are The Problem,” which I urge you to read. The authors write,
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
I realize that those who follow the tea party or who are very conservative will not be reached no matter how much we try. But there are too many Americans who too often are getting one version of the story and it’s a distorted one. I wish that I could blame the GOP entirely for this but, unfortunately, I cannot.