Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdown Juxtaposition

In last Sunday's Houston Chronicle I came across two stories in the front page section that caused a double-take. The first was an article about the Miss Universe pageant that discussed how the Muslim extremists in Indonesia caused the pageant organizers to modify the swimsuit portion of the competition by intimidation and threats of violence. Now I really do not care much about the Miss Universe pageant and what kind of swimsuits they compete in. But I found myself reacting strongly against the notion that one group of people should bully another to get their way. The second article was about the Tea Party Republicans and their efforts to intimidate the Senate Democrats into making certain decisions to "change the rules" related to the Affordable Care Act with threats of economic violence and government shutdown. While I am no fan of the new healthcare law, the Tea Party's actions seem indistinguishable from those of the Muslim extremists. Does the Tea Party not see this?

I almost feel bad for John Boehner. He is trying to hold together a political party where a substantial minority have forgotten what it means to govern in a multi-faceted context. Is there a way to overturn the Affordable Care Act? Sure there is. Win enough seats in Congress--both houses--and repeal the law. On the other hand, since the Act is law, then the Tea Party should either work to negotiate changes, pass new legislation, or develop a message that resonates with the American people--not just their own small group of constituents.

In our republic each individual must sometimes set aside what she or he prefers in order to advance the greater good of the whole. I may not like very spending decision made by Congress or the state legislature, but I must still pay my taxes; some of which go to support programs and tasks that I support and some that do not. In any healthy relationship, there is give and take--not take it or leave it!

I do wish that political conservatives would understand two things. First, what goes around comes around. Can you imagine the outcry if the roles were reversed? Second, no one likes, or will support, a bully who intimidates and threatens to get their way.

Perhaps there is a need or an opening for a conservative party that also understands civility and what it measn to govern across political, economic, and cultural boundaries. The Republican Party in October of 2013 doesn't seem to grasp these concepts.