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Exasperated American's note to crazypants Republicans


House of TurdsSo federal government services were shut down at midnight EST Monday night. At least 800,000 jobs have been furloughed (i.e no work, no pay); another one million will be forced to continue working without pay until the shutdown is resolved.

And all this, because the House Republicans don't like the Affordable Care Act.

That's right — the House Republicans shut down the government because they oppose universal health care. Which for the rest of the world, is the equivalent of crazypants gibberspeak.

Seriously, House Republicans, what are you thinking? The bill passed almost four years ago. If you were looking for a mandate to overturn it, you had the 2012 election, in which, oh wait, you got served (and pretty handily). Even the Supreme Court has validated the law as constitutional. The Supreme Cour! They've got Scalia!

Plus, it's a law to provide universal health care. Think about that: you're opposing people's right to have health coverage. It's the social justice equivalent of opposing Disneyland — in fact it's weirder, because you can at least imagine someone saying they don't like giant smiling mice. Who in their right mind would say 'I just don't like the idea of people having health care'?

Now, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. I mean, we watched grade schoolers get gunned down almost a year ago and still you guys (and many of your Democrat colleagues) couldn't agree to basic background checks and a ban on assault weapons. And btw, over 50 per cent of Americans wanted these measures.

Read that again, boyo, because the last time over 50 per cent of Americans wanted stronger gun laws was in Eighteen Twenty NEVER. But still you didn't pass it.

(Oh, and in case you're counting, there have quite a few shootings since then, including one a few weeks ago in your own backyard. But no, please, protect my right to be mentally ill or pissed off or just plain bored and still be able to purchase an AK-47 for a little aw shucks boys will be boys random gunplay. Please.)

It's been nice, too, these first few days of the shutdown, to see so many of you on television mocking those of us who claimed the skies would be rent and plagues of locusts would fall if you shut down the government. You really showed us. Especially the nine million low-income women and children at risk who have stopped receiving the supplemental vouchers they need to buy food. I mean, who really NEEDS food? I'm sure sitting in front of the television watching The Voice is sustenance enough. (I know my sister says Adam Levine is a meal all by himself.)

And speaking of my sister, here's an interesting comparison: when her children have temper tantrums, they have to spend time on the naughty step. (Don't ask me, but it works.) But when you guys have temper tantrums, nine illion women and children don't get to eat. Isn't that hilarious?

Seriously, you have to wonder, for a party that opposes universal health care, has no problems with the entire population being armed, and also last week voted to cut food stamps — because nothing signals real concern for the neediest like preventing them from having both health care and that which they need to stay healthy — what exactly is the master plan here? Because it seems we're more in Joker territory than Batman here.

My guess is, you're having a cull. Survival of the fittest, 21st century style. Existence as an obstacle course of bullets and injury avoidance, slathered in a thick savoury dressing of enforced self-loathing. The perfect way to wipe out the deficit-feeding drags on our economy — you know, leeches like the deadbeat poor, children, immigrants and the elderly (oh and totally coincidentally also a disproportionate percentage of the non-white population of our country).

It's definitely an interesting political strategy, especially after the last election. But hey, as Thomas Merton liked to say, 'Being a saint means eliminating the little guy.' (Oh wait, I think that was Chairman Mao.)

Seriously, though, be who you are. The copy really does write itself. Get out the posters and start the cheers: 'We're well, we're white, we're wealthy, go deal with it!' ('Also, we're weaponised!')

Seriously, my friends — and I hope that we are all friends down deep where it really matters — how does any of this work for you? Because it really does seem crazypants atrociously godawful. And it'd be nicer not to be that if we could.

Jim McDermott headshotJim McDermott SJ is a former associate editor at America Magazine. He is a screenwriter living in LA. This article is a revised and updated version of a piece that originally appeared on his blog.

Topic tags: Jim McDermott, America, universal health care, Republicans



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Existing comments

Hilarious, furious, and spot on. The game, though, Jim, is (I think) a long bet: the poor Tantrum Party is betting that in a year, when the 2014 elections are looming, voters will not remember this foolish cruelty, but will still be grappling with the complexities of insurance changes. I think they are cynically, and probably correctly, betting on short memories and self-interest.

Brian Doyle | 04 October 2013  

Yes! What arrogance to hold a nation to ransom and to some extent the world financial markets. I have long held the belief/fear that democracy cannot survive long term; This sort of behaviour just reinforces my belief.

Helen | 04 October 2013  

Congratulations Jim McDermott on a gross oversimplification of the objections some have to the Affordable Care Act. I make no comment on the rights or wrongs of the Republicans shutting down the government. However, you make it seem that if the Act were passed, it would be just like the Fairy Godmother waving her magic wand and all would be well. From my reading of it there are massive problems with the Act. To begin with it runs to over 30,000 pages. Most of those who voted for it had not even read it. It will create a yet another massive bureaucracy in a country already beset by a mind-numbing number of bureaus and agencies. This new super bureaucracy will cost a fortune to fund and have great power to pry into people's private lives. Having medical insurance is now a federal government mandate, enforced with sanctions if you do not comply. Rather than explore these issues, Jim McDermott, you just go for an easy stereotype of the rich, white, redneck. I doubt Eureka Street would print an article that contained a stereotype that similarly pigeon holed African Americans.

Peter Hill | 04 October 2013  

Rarely is it a good idea to get into a debate on a commentary thread, but Peter Hill's is silly talk. The Act is law. It was endlessly debated and it passed. It was found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court. The ship has sailed. Editing it is the necessary and good work of the future. But to petulantly shut down the government over a law that has been passed, by all parties concerned (and that is what Jim's piece is about) is inarguably stupid, cruel, mean, shortsighted, and in my mind good ground for impeachment. Each one of the supposed legislators having an after-the-fact hissy fit TOOK A VOW to represent their district's citizens, many of whom are now thrown into serious straits. For shame.

Brian Doyle | 04 October 2013  

"You're opposing people's right to have health coverage." Jim, to oppose governments forcing taxpayers to pay for highly inefficient health schemes is not to oppose the right of anyone to have health coverage.

H | 04 October 2013  

Excellent and on point!

MaryAnn | 04 October 2013  

This has nothing to do with the merits or otherwise of the universal health care legislation. If the Republicans want to repeal or amend the legislation, then the correct thing to do is to introduce legislation to do so. Their current approach is nothing more than blackmail; using a their ability to thwart budget legislation to achieve an end that has nothing to do with the budget. It reminds me of the approach taken in our own parliament by the Tasmanian DLP Senator who used his balance of power to blackmail the Coalition Government into yielding to his 'pro-life' position in exchange for passing unrelated legislation.

Ginger Meggs | 05 October 2013  

Glad for the back and forth on this issue! I just want to note, while some Republicans say what they oppose is inefficient universal health care, in point of fact as a party they have fought against the concept of universal health care since even before Hillary Clinton's work in the early 1990s. Some of that resistance comes from standard Republican belief that government solutions to social problems are by nature incredibly inefficient. (The fact that the Republican alternative of no solution is worse for those who need it goes unconsidered.) And some also have a dare-I-say kooky fear of the US "turnin' socialist". (As far as I can tell, it's a Cold War thing that just won't go away.) And if all that sounds like gross oversimplification, I invite you to check out FOX News or YouTube clips of recent Republican conventions. It's pretty much standard fare there.

Jim McDermott | 07 October 2013  

Thanks Jim for a very insightful piece; no one who has not lived in USA can really appreciate the reality of what you are saying. What bothers the right is that with such a huge deficit either spending by Fed Gov has to fall or taxes have to go up! and Obama-care is expensive, as least up front, even if human suffering may decline, so speeding win`t going to fall! And these guys just are`n white , wealthy etc...they are mean; they don.

Eugene | 07 October 2013  

Jim, you've missed your vocation as a Democrat politician. You don't point out that the shut down has nothing to do with those "crazypants" Republicans: the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in fact voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

HH | 07 October 2013  

And again: This has nothing to do with Obamacare. This is a political tactic, a cold and cruel one too, to force change in a law that passed long ago. This is like shutting down the government because you detest civil rights law, or the war draft, or the Postal Service. It's stupid and cruel and it's a shame the fools who are insisting on it are not run out of office. Of course Obamacare has problems. That's what legislators and courts are for, to fix them. NOT legislating is stupid.

Brian Doyle | 09 October 2013  

Jim McDermott's attitude is part of the problem, not the solution. Don't blame the Republicans because the standoffish Obama lacks any capacity to get everyone in a room and stamp his authority on the situation. This is not a case of excessive politics, it’s a case of the lack of real politics. Like children, America's political representatives on both sides have taken their balls home and won’t play. What America desperately needs are grown-ups to play this game.

DavidSt | 10 October 2013  

I wonder what HH would say if the crazypants Republican Right were a bunch of Islamists rather than a bunch of Christianists?

Ginger Meggs | 11 October 2013  

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