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Mere hours after the great government shutdown of 2013 finally ended, President Barack Obama condemned the Republican Party for manufacturing an economic crisis.
“Nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create this kind of crisis,” he said. “[The crisis has] encouraged our enemies, emboldened our competitors and depressed our friends. ... We’ve got a lot of hard work to do regaining their trust. The system of self-government doesn’t function without it.”
Indeed it doesn’t. But our system of government is also dependent upon another very important principle: majority rule. And what Americans witnessed on Wednesday night was nothing short of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid placing a stent in that vital artery of democracy, preserving it (hopefully) for generations to come.
By refusing to negotiate with the hostage-takers in the Republican Party -- a tactic insiders credit more to Reid than Obama -- the Senate and the Executive branch reasserted authority over the House, and particularly over the insurgent tea party Republicans who seemed hell-bent on inflicting an economic crisis on the whole world.
Their prize? A whopping $24 billion in taxpayer dollars down the drain, and zero real political concessions from the President and his party. As Reid told Democrats last week, “The President of the United States was very, very strong, strong, strong.”
The Republicans no longer have the power to bring the government to its knees, and the tea party is now aware of this. It seems that the Republican Party’s “fever” has finally begun to break.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demonstrated this on Wednesday night, controlling more votes in the chamber than her Republican counterpart -- an ominous sign of things to come in 2014. Speaker John Boehner only managed to whip up 87 votes to reopen the government, despite telling his members they have “no reason” to vote against it. By comparison, Pelosi’s Democrats voted in complete unison, leaving 144 embittered, neo-Confederate Republicans to toss their ballots into the winds of history.
Of course, the deal struck Wednesday merely kicks the budget fight down the road even further -- with funding at sequester-levels, no less -- which means this could conceivably all happen again in February when the U.S. hits the debt ceiling once again.
To his vanquished foes, the President had a simple message on Thursday morning: “Go win an election,” he said. “... Let’s work together to make government work better instead of treating it like an enemy, or purposefully making it work worse. That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they fashioned self government.”
“Push to change it,” Obama added. “Don’t break it.”
This video is from CBS News, broadcast Thursday, October 17, 2013.
Illustration: Flickr user DonkeyHotey, creative commons licensed.