“…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
s 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.