There’s not a lot I can say here. I’ve been ignoring political news for a while because I can’t bring myself to deal with it; most of what’s pissing me off is beyond my ability to affect in a meaningful way, so all reading about it does is raise my blood pressure. (Which sometimes could use it. But I don’t think that’s a medically recommended method of fixing the problem.)
Other people, however, have said very intelligent things.
First and foremost, Tobias Buckell, on EMTALA and how we got to this point. It says something about political coverage in the news that I? Had not actually heard of EMTALA before this. I had heard about it, sure. I knew that emergency rooms had to treat anybody who came in, and worry about payment later. I knew some (not all) of the problems that had produced. But I didn’t know what caused it. I didn’t know this was a law from Reagan’s presidency, and that legislators at the time had kicked down the road the question of how anybody was going to pay for it.
And you know, if I had the power to change one thing about our dysfunctional political system, that might be it: the overwhelming tendency to kick the payment can down the road. Defer spending on infrastructure and other vital things, until it collapses out from under you. I heard somebody say once that this is a fundamental weakness of democracy, and I believe it. When you need to worry about re-election, you go for the quick and easy points, not the things that need to be done but nobody will thank you for them.
Scalzi, as usual, has things to say, but for me his best line is in the comments. Someone there — clearly thinking he was scoring points by accusing Scalzi of bad rhetoric — said “In other words, the explanation for the behavior of your political opponents that seems most likely to you is that they are evil. This seems uncharitable and unimaginative.” To which Scalzi responded:
You know what, Leonard? Shutting down the whole of the government of the United States in order to force a change (or indeed repeal) in a law offers access to medical insurance to millions that don’t already have it or can’t afford it, because you otherwise don’t have the legislative majority to make changes, thereby putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work and costing the nation millions of dollars each day? That’s not a bad definition of banal evil.
Now I hear rumblings that these same folks will try to leverage the debt limit in order to get their way on the ACA. If that’s correct, a willingness to destroy the US’ global financial standing, and disrupting the entire planetary economy, would take the action out of “banal” to actual flat out evil.
To which I have to say, yeah. This shutdown is financially and economically destructive, and it amounts to the Republicans throwing a temper tantrum about a law they failed to prevent, because they would prefer we go back to the good ol’ days when millions of people went without medical care or died because they weren’t rich enough to be healthy.
Two words: Fuck. That.
ACA is not perfect. But this? Doesn’t help anybody.
And then I’ll just point you at Fred Clark of Slacktivist, who has said many good and important things: “The ‘debt limit’ Kobayashi Maru,” “What the shutdown means: Unnecessary pain,” “The longer the shutdown goes, the more it costs us all,” and a more general look at “Another proof of bad faith: The inconsistency of blacktracking.” (I prefer the term he quotes later, “pulling a one-hatey,” because that one’s applicable to circumstances other than those involving Obama. But both terms have a certain rhetorical charm.)
My entire life as an eligible voter, I have wished that I could respect the Republican Party. I would probably vote Democratic anyway, but I wish I could look at their behavior and say, “I understand where you’re coming from and I respect that, even if I disagree with you.” But I can’t. I just can’t. I look at them and see a pack of dishonest, amoral idealogues who cater to the basest impulses in our political discourse. We need a new Republican Party, stat. One that’s actually conservative, rather than reactionary. But I don’t think we’re going to get it any time soon.