With the Washington "shutdown" in progress, it is time for Republicans to reflect on what one Republican said many decades ago at the end of his long and distinguished career of service to the citizens of our country. He didn't make harsh demands on the opposing political party, he didn't tell them it was his way or else. He found a way to work things out and when he took his final leave, he left us with words that ring true to this day and will forever more as long as free people establish and nurture republics. This is what he said:
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation. My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and finally to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years. In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the nations good, rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling — on my part — of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
President Dwight David Eisenhower. Farewell to the Nation, January 17, 1960.
Written from his perspective in the executive branch, it applies to the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today. Laws and the policy they are based upon cannot be crafted or made effective by demanding repeal of whole programs already enacted and implemented. Such jarring shocks as proposed by the House for repeal or one year delay or a shutdown of the federal government serve no ultimate purpose other than partisan advantage. If the Republicans are sincere, they will vote to reopen the government and present amendments to the Affordable Health Care Act (AHA) that insures health insurance for Americans.
No one can argue that people with pre-existing conditions could not purchase health insurance or that medical costs, as a percentage of GDP, was skyrocketing toward 20% of our economy. President Obama and the Congress addressed those problems and others when the AHA was enacted almost four years ago. Whether it was precisely the correct response to those issues is really beside the point. These issues created real problems, not only macro economically, but also very personal ones for individuals left without insurance. Undoing the AHA and forming a line back to the past does not advance the well being of the American people.
The Republicans in the House have demonized the AHA from almost every angle one can imagine, but they have not answered the practical questions about how they would insure Americans health care. They have not "cooperated well, to serve the nations good."
It is one thing to criticize, but it is hard work to solve these kind of problems. Once the public sees through the facade of the shutdown, they will ask Republicans, if we repeal the AHA, what do you propose, we as a people should do to insure adequate health care for our citizens? I hope they have the answer.
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A. Lincoln, Cooper Union New York, February, 1860
"Cooperating well, to serve the nation's good."
Something's got to snap in the current situation, and when it does, I hope that leaders who are thinking like "old school" Republicans will stand up to heal the breach.
MADCO: Abe Lincoln actually said, "That is cool."???