The current partial government shutdown has been criticized by nearly all, from the left to the right. The notion of a small band of “Tea Party Loyalists” unwilling to sign off on the funding for Obamacare and holding the government budget process hostage has really infuriated many in the media and in the political world. Here in NYC, after a few days, no one really seems to care anymore. In fact, unbelievably, the picketing by supporters of Alex Rodriguez standing outside of the Park Avenue building that houses Major League Baseball headquarters, which is just outside of my window, seemed to be getting more attention last week.
Of course, I am sure that even the most ardent Tea Partier would admit that there is virtually no chance that Obamacare will be de-funded while Mr. Obama is still living in the White House. So, many might ask, what gives? Why holdout and inconvenience so many? Why make those who work for the EPA, or the IRS, or the NLRB suffer and have to stay home, ostensibly without pay?
To me, the answer to this was captured really well in an editorial by Holman Jenkins that was published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday 10/2/13. To summarize, he seemed to be making the point that as a nation we desperately needed to turn the ship of public opinion around and create awareness that the entitlement issue must be re-thought or else our financial house, and with it our freedom and way of life, will crumble. He made the point that this situation marked the first stages of a long and probably uncomfortable journey during which we come to grips with the realities of math and begin to become reconciled to the need for immense change.
I found these points compelling and, in fact, heartening. I began to see this mess in Washington as a positive…as a sign that democracy was really at work. Democracies are messy by nature. There are no monarchs or dictators to set law. In a democracy there are real disagreements, and sometimes they are profound and seemingly un-bridgeable. It is in those instances where people will and must take stands for the betterment of all, and we must appreciate these moments as they reflect to us how fortunate we really are to live in a nation where the ideological tug-of-war can exist with tremendous and heated debate, but with no guns drawn. God bless America. She is surely in need of some help, but in my mind the signs are beginning to point up.