Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

“…democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.”

—Ronald Reagan, commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day

As news breaks that President Obama will meet today with the leaders of both parties in Congress to discuss the government-as-hostage crisis, it is extremely important to simplify what is going on. And although I’m not always the biggest fan of Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, he had something to say today (“Our Democracy Is At Stake”that bears repeating because it reduces the problem to its essence:

This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.

Now, readers of this blog have read all that before, but, hey, this is a big-time Times columnist writing it, so it will reach many more minds, which is a good thing. And it’s a good thing that Friedman was very clear that “if we do not defend” the idea of majority rule, if we do not do something about the fact that a relatively small group of Republicans—in one-half of one-third of the government—believe they can, with impunity, “put a fiscal gun to the country’s head” and get their way, then our little American experiment with democracy, with self-government, is in deep trouble.

It’s pretty much that simple, when you think about it. For all the incessant banter on cable television, for all the words pecked out on keyboards all over the country, for all the late-night jokes on all the late-night comedy shows, it comes down to what Friedman said at the end of his column:

President Obama is not defending health care. He’s defending the health of our democracy. Every American who cherishes that should stand with him.

Yes, we should all stand with him, providing that, after his meeting with congressional leaders today, he is still standing tall.



  1. Troy

     /  October 2, 2013

    That won’t go over here in Texas . They like this government shut down. Hard core religious right wing nut cases down heh……


    • Troy,

      I’m guessing that the NASA furloughs are hurting a lot of folks down there, but what Republican in Texas really gives a damn about exploring the universe these days? Especially when the NASA engineers and technicians can’t find Obama’s birth certificate anywhere.


  2. You know, Duane, I think the problem ramped up when Eric Cantor demonstrated a couple of years ago that he (JD, William & Mary) didn’t understand how a bill becomes law. Seems the rest of the TP-GOP took that same Stupid Pill. In reality, they care nothing about the American Democratic Experiment. They WANT to change how government works. They MUST make it revert to the Dark Ages to have any influence beyond this current decade.


    • Doc,

      You know, I have wondered about this tendency for right-wingers, generally considered educated, to constantly refer to the ACA as a “bill” or, as I heard a few days ago, a “proposal.”

      Now, here’s what I think is a reasonable explanation of this weird phenomenon. Obviously these people, at least the ones who are supposed to legislate for a living, know somewhere in their heads that ObamaCare is actually a law. They also know somewhere in their heads that Barack Obama has been elected twice by a majority of the American electorate, which is supposed to mean he gets to be president. Further, they know in their heads that Democrats control two-thirds of the law-enacting part of the government.

      But taken together, those three facts represent an evil trinity. A trinity so difficult to embrace, so chilling to contemplate, so hard to accept, that conservatives delude themselves into believing that November 4, 2008, and November 6, 2012, didn’t happen. It was all just a bad dream and soon they will wake up and Ted Cruz will be president.



  3. Duane,

    I posted an excerpt from John Dean’s “Conservatives Without a Conscience” on this blog some time ago, I don’t remember when. But given the developments over the last few months with the American Taliban, I think that excerpt deserves repeating:

    “Frankly, when I started writing this book I had a difficult time accounting for what had become of conservatism or, for that matter, the Republican Party. I went down a number of dead-end streets looking for answers, before finally discovering a true explanation. My finding, simply stated, is the growing presence of conservative authoritarianism. Conservatism has noticeably evolved from its so-called modern phase (1950-94) into what might be called a postmodern period (1994 to the present), and in doing so it has regressed to its earliest authoritarian roots.

    “Authoritarianism is not well understood and seldom discussed in the context of American government and politics, yet it now constitutes the prevailing thinking and behavior among conservatives. Regrettably, empirical studies reveal, however, that authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, anti-democratic, anti-equality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral. They are also often conservatives without conscience who are capable of plunging this nation into disasters the likes of which we have never known.”

    Those very scary and very prophetic words were written in 2006.



  4. Mike Gaden

     /  October 3, 2013

    Thanks, Duane and Herb, for articulating the things I feel. Those are good, if chilling, words.


%d bloggers like this: