In the movie, "Network," actor Peter Finch, out of his mind and frustrated, goes on national news and utters a phrase that catches fire with his many viewers. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" he told them. And they began throwing open their windows and shouting the same words, over and over.
The movie viewer knows that the episode was partially fabricated by network executives. They knew Finch's character was off his rocker, and they knew viewers were watching just to see what he would do. Surprisingly enough, the viewing public took up the rallying cry of a mad man and a movement was born.
Our current situation, which officially began at midnight last night, made me think about "Network" and the response of the American public. For weeks, I have watched Congress and the White House playing roulette with our government, its budget and its credit rating, not to mention its reputation in the world stage, and I have reached my limit.
Congress has been spinning the chamber for months. The House and the Senate, each controlled by different parties, made it clear from the outset that they would refuse to cooperate, or to legislate. President Obama told both houses of Congress that he would await the budget they are Constitutionally required to complete. Mind you, it's only a budget to get us through a few months, not a real budget to plan for running the country.
The House, for what has now become the 46th, 47th and 48th times, decided to tie the passage of the budget to, first, a defunding of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and in a final attempt, to a delay of implementation and a repeal of a tax on medical devices.
On the other side of the building, the Senate stripped off the Obamacare amendments, approved the budget bill, and sent it back to the House. Three times.
As of this morning, the Senate has told the House that they refuse to negotiate on the matter.
The White House, though normally gifted in their oratory, stated that the President would veto any bill that included Obamacare provisions. The President could have stated that the White House wants a budget bill and an increase in the debt ceiling, and that Congress could follow standard legislative procedures to make changes to the ACA rather than holding the government hostage with threats. They didn't do that; but, they could have.
Except now, no one is flinching. No one is cooperating. And, no one is talking. Well, at least not to each other. All of them are more than willing to talk to the television cameras. They all have been shown pointing their fingers across the aisle, and across the building, and across the Mall. Lots of fingers pointing somewhere, with no one actually doing the thing they were elected to do - keep the country running.
During the last government shutdown in 1995, the stalemate went on for 21 days. The most stunning thing to occur during that episode was when an intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky delivered pizza to the Oval Office. Apparently, the pizza was ordered with extra toppings!
Social media and email are both burning up the internet now. Everyone is blaming the Republicans. They're blaming the Democrats. They're blaming Congress, the House, the Senate. And, they're blaming the President. Except everyone has had a hand in this and none of them are willing to step up and take responsibility.
Pundits point to the Tea Party and note that it has turned the Republican Party into an obstructionist party. People tend to forget that organizations like Moveon.org hijacked the Democratic Party for a number of years and alienated moderate Democrats and Republicans. Our two-party system no longer has a concern about negotiating for the best interest of the American people. Instead, each party, and its fringe elements, want total power and total control to run the business of the country.
And so now, I say it and I hope it carries.... "I'm made as hell and I won't take it anymore." I'm mad at politicians who answer to special interest groups and powerful lobbies rather than actually looking at their actual constituencies and doing what they want and need (not always the same thing). I'm mad at politicians that, no matter what party they are in, forget that there are constituents of the opposing party in their districts who also demand, and deserve, adequate representation.
And I'm mad that we, the American people, instead of demanding that our elected officials stop behaving like spoiled third graders, start taking sides and falling for every spin, every lie, every press release, that comes our way.
I'm mad at all of us for having given up our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable. We abdicated to television commentators and political pundits who are more worried about viewers and readers than actual outcomes.
Just grow up already!
It’s all just my opinion.