Their Real Goal: To Make Us All So Cynical About Government, We Give Up

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/63417612450

By Robert Reich
Monday, October 7, 2013

An old friend who has been active in politics for more than thirty years tells me he’s giving up. “I can’t stomach what’s going on in Washington anymore,” he says. “The hell with all of them. I have better things to do with my life.”

My friend is falling exactly into the trap that the extreme right wants all of us to fall into — such disgust and cynicism that we all give up on politics. Then they’re free to take over everything.

Republicans blame the shutdown of Washington and possible default on the nation’s debt on the President’s “unwillingness to negotiate” over the Affordable Care Act. But that law has already been negotiated. It passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President. It withstood a Supreme Court challenge.

The Act is hardly perfect, but neither was Social Security or Medicare when first enacted. The Constitution allows Congress to amend or delay laws that don’t work as well as they were intended, or even to repeal them. But to do any of this requires new legislation – including a majority of both houses of Congress and a president’s signature (or else a vote to override a president’s veto).  

Our system does not allow one party to delay, amend, or repeal a law of the land by shutting down the rest of the government until its demands are met. If that were the way our democracy worked, no law would ever be safe or settled. A disciplined majority in one house could always use the threat of a shutdown or default to gut any law it didn’t like.

So the President cannot re-negotiate the Affordable Care Act. And I don’t believe Tea Bag Republicans expect him to.

Their real goal is far more insidious. They want to sow even greater cynicism about the capacity of government to do much of anything. The shutdown and possible default are only the most recent and most dramatic instances of terminal gridlock, designed to get people like my friend to give up.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/63417612450

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