Writers on shutdown display their own indulgences

As expected, The Citizen of Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013 had articles attempting to show the correctness of the government shutdown orchestrated by our politicians in the Congress. The submissions by Mr. Garlock and Congressman Westmoreland did this. If the media had not been blanketed by hourly coverage of this deadlock, one would have swallowed whole the spin of both writers.

Straight from my undergraduate humanities (general studies) class in logic, I would think that Mr. Garlock committed that logical fallacy called argumentum ad hominem: attacking an individual (not their opinion) without logically substantiating the premise of your opinion.

Take as an example, this statement by Mr. Garlock: “If you listen to the President’s whining speeches, which I no longer can abide for more than a moment, he will tell you the government shutdown is unprecedented, but that is a lie.”

He does not listen to Mr. Obama’s entire speeches because he cannot abide them. However, he is able to determine what the entire speech is about (?).

Because Mr. Garlock does not listen objectively, he is likely to make inferences based on his bias. I do not know absolutely but some other commentators have agreed with Mr. Obama that this particular shutdown is unprecedented.

The reason for the unprecedented shutdown, I gather, is the Republican party-controlled House of Representatives insisting on a repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act in order for a budget bill and a debt-ceiling to be approved by the house.

It is unprecedented to link repeal of a law of the land to budget negotiations. The President has always maintained that he is willing to negotiate the budget and debt-ceiling with the Republicans but not a repeal of his signature legislative accomplishment.

Mr. Obama has even given reasons for his stance, but Mr. Garlock, artfully and contemptuously, derides this stance as juvenile and without clarity. The President has, on numerous occasions, reminded the Republicans that the law was a major part of the last presidential elections which he won convincingly.

Many Republican representatives have also stated that they also won in their respective districts. Sure they won, but the President won throughout the country.

Population-wise, I am informed that the Democrats may have won more votes (approximately 3 million more) in the election for members of the House than the Republican majority.

Despite this fact, the Republican Party believes it has the mandate of the country to ignore the majority in the U.S. Senate and the White House and play politics with the country’s credibility and the lives of its citizenry.

Mr. Westmoreland has stated, “Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats and the President have been working to thwart almost every attempt made that would lessen the impact of the shutdown.” It would appear that Mr. Westmoreland and colleagues have only recently begun considering the consequences of the shutdown.

What a perfectly thought-out strategy! Mr. Obama and the Democrats in the House and Senate had warned of these consequences as the Republicans threatened the shutdown.

There have been stories about who said what and who did what during the shutdown. Mr. Garlock writes, “As you know, a mistake in Washington, D.C., is when someone slips up to utter the truth rather than spin the party line, and apparently a park manager slipped up recently at the Barrycades to admit receiving orders to make the shutdown as painful as possible to fuel the blame game against Republicans. Thus the barricades around memorials, where National Park rangers are absent by furlough.”

This statement, if at all uttered by anyone (ask Fox News), is considered collateral damage, just like statements (caught on video) by Republican congressmen and Senators McConnell and Paul (“we’re winning this ...”).

Even if access to these memorials used to be free 24/7, there are employees who see to security and cleanliness but had to be furloughed as a consequence of a flimsy, hare-brained strategy.

It may be that the omniscient Republicans and conservatives (Mr. Garlock included) have determined which aspects of the government need to be functioning and, consequently, may be funded with the meager government income.

I do not have problems with a group’s thinking or philosophy, so long as the group keeps such thinking to itself. If the thinking must apply to me, I have an opinion.

Similarly, the Republicans must be aware that there is another “faction” in the Congress, Senate and White House with a slightly different opinion and philosophy.

Additionally, this other faction currently has an overall majority and is in charge of the executive arm of a democratic government. When a minority seeks to continually run roughshod over the majority in any group of people, there exists an authoritarian or dictatorial setup.

Republicans in the House have maintained that they won re-election and thus the basis for continuing gridlock in Congress. We may be reminded that Saddam Hussein consistently won over 90 percent of the votes in presidential elections in Iraq.

He sure did; however, those votes were from his minority Sunni sect who wanted “their own” continually in power.

It maybe that the so-called gerrymandering of congressional districts is an indication of politicians’ interest in laying the foundations for non-competitive electioneering and voting for superior ideas and philosophy.

I hate to imagine such a situation trumping the ideals enshrined in the document of “We, the people ...” It is still, along with the country it established, a widely admired and copied (to some extent) document outside of the U.S.A.

Mr. Garlock writes, “I tried after Obama was elected to keep my commentary respectful and give him the benefit of the doubt, but all doubt has long since evaporated. I don’t think Obama would know leadership if it bit him on the backside.”

He has not shown cause for this evaporation of respect for the current occupant of the office of POTUS. That was exactly the position of the Republican Senate leader Mr. McConnell on the night of Mr. Obama’s election. So also was Mr. Westmoreland’s earlier reference to Mr. and Mrs. Obama as “uppity.”

Such statements, in my opinion, express some ingrained aversion for the person of the President, not his political philosophy or leadership style. Mr. Obama has, as POTUS, done certain things even his Democratic base did not approve of but geared towards accommodating the non-Democratic portion of the country. That is leadership.

In the end the country expects a resolution of the on-going impasse and the President will play the most significant role in it.

Whatever he does is going to be interpreted by the likes of Senators McConnell and Paul as their “winning,” but the saner portion of the country will know it was done for the good of the citizenry of this great and unique country.

Passions and convictions become unilaterally rabid under the current impasse in Washington, but people like Mr. Garlock and the politicians must use their heads and show greater objectivity in these national discussions.

Peter Awachie, Ph.D.
Fayetteville, Ga.

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