A Curious Bystander

Megan Chrisler, Features Editor

The Syria discussions have cooled off just a bit, allowing me to turn my attention homeward. It seems as if history is repeating itself with what Forbes’ Rick Ungar calls “an annoying and unnecessary annual ritual,” when talking about the debt ceiling; President Barack Obama talked to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

“I’m happy to have a conversation with [House Speaker John Boehner] about how we can deal with the so-called sequester, which is making across-the-board cuts on stuff that we shouldn’t be cutting, while continuing tax breaks, for example, for companies that are not helping to grow the economy. What I haven’t been willing to negotiate, and I will not negotiate, is on the debt ceiling,” Obama said.

Boehner is demanding what Republicans have been demanding for a while: significant budget cuts. In exchange, Republicans might allow the government to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans also want Obamacare to be repealed, something that doesn’t look likely considering it has been in effect for three years, passed the Senate and House and was a platform for the guy Obama defeated in last year’s presidential election.

Ungar calls this the “Season of the Witch—the time when any remaining shred of reason in government is retired in favor of political posturing over the debt ceiling.” If Republicans don’t get what they want, they say they will let the government shut down in October; this will hurt the economy even more than anything Obama would suggest and would put a dent in the global economy too. Obama has pointed out that nothing like this sort of threat has ever happened within the government; which really says something about Washington.

I doubt Republicans are willing to see their country collapse, but they are willing to use the threat to get what they want. Perhaps Obama knows it’s just a threat and can therefore take a position of no compromise. Either way, this isn’t about a big group of leaders discussing domestic issues and the best possible solutions. This is two sides battling shamelessly for whatever they can get. Among all the recent civil wars cropping up in the Middle East, one could say that America has her own civil war in Washington.

Conservatives are betraying the very country they profess to cherish by threatening its downfall (even if it’s only a threat). Obama is only perpetuating the severe political divide by refusing to talk about the debt ceiling. It shouldn’t go there, but since it has, let’s be honest: Obama has healthcare, apparently the debt ceiling and maybe even Syria. Republicans have hardly gotten anything since his first presidency. And it can’t be because they don’t deserve anything, because Democrats are as equally to blame for the economic mess that they can’t fix.

One solution, as small as it is, may be to make a new seating chart for Congress. Let’s see what happens when a Democrat is forced to sit next to a Republican for the whole year. Maybe, the terms Democrat and Republican will eventually disappear into history. Or maybe there will be a lot of badly crippled Congressmen and –women. Either way, we might be better off.