Friday, October 4, 2013

The Republican Party of the United States: The North American Ostrich

Chicago.- The United States—which sees itself as a cradle of democracy—is going through rough times. A group of ultra-conservatives in the Republican Party has shut down the federal government due to an
ideological war against president Obama, whom they despise and have fought against since he took office. These ultra-conservatives, who call themselves the Tea Party, hate the new Affordable Care Act so much that they wanted to force the President to delay it or water it down in order to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. President Obama has called this "blackmail" by one faction in one political party, in one house of congress, in one branch of government.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will allow millions of people, many with pre-existing conditions, to get coverage from insurance companies that would've charged them very expensive rates in the past. Among other benefits, ACA allows parents to keep their children on their insurance policies until they're 25, and it gives subsidies to buy insurance to low-income citizens. Apparently Republicans see these benefits as socialist, and that's why they've been attacking ACA since it passed four years ago.

But Republicans have been opposing all of President Obama's agenda since he took office, from the repeal of the army's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy that forbade openly gay people from serving the country, to comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans also used the budget in 2011 to force the President and the Democrats to make political concessions. It appears that Republicans don't want to give President Obama any political victories. For the first four years of his presidency, Republican legislators such as Mitch McConnell's motto was to make president Obama a one-time president. Their ultra-conservative supporters have also launched a disrespectful smear campaign that went as far as spreading the false rumor that President Obama was not a natural citizen of the United States, forcing the him to publicly post his birth certificate. This smear campaign continues and many far-right conservatives still believe that the President is not a United States citizen.

The current assault on the world's most powerful democracy is the result of a battle that has been going on for decades between liberals (the Democracts) and conservatives (the Republicans). Liberals have fought for gay rights,benefits for the poor, immigration reform and the right of women to get an abortion. Republicans have been fighting against these same issues, but they have also been taken hostage by the far right wing of their pary. For decades they've been pushing for dramatic cuts in social services that help the poor and immigrants, to the point that they are seen as racist and xenophobic. They see the Affordable Care Act as a social service, and that's why they despise it so much. But they reached a tipping point when they shut down the government four days
ago to try to repeal it.

Republicans have become so aggressive against President Obama and the Democrats that have stopped compromising, a vital principle for a democracy to work. Now in the middle of the shutdown, Eugene Robinson wrote that "Republicans in Congressare like a dog that chases cars and finally catches one. There is a fleeting sense of accomplishment, followed by sheer panic." Now Republicans have cornered themselves into a difficult position, because they are seen as responsible for the shutdown by a majority of people. "A few dozen far-right members of the House, Robinson added, "muscled Boehner into taking the wrong hostage [the President]. Having caught the car, Boehner would be wise to let it go. Even at the expense of a little dignity."

Republicans cannot find a way to get out of the mess they created when they tried to blackmail the President. Playing with the budget and the country's finances to attack a law that was passed four years ago and ratified by the Supreme Court is not a maneuver proper of a democracy, and people are starting to see that. And I say that Republicans are also like a giant Ostrich,a big clumsy bird that has put itself in a tough situation. And the only thing that it knows what to do is bury its big head
in the mud.

Link to Spanish/Enlace a historia en español.