Respect…(Just a Little Bit)

By the time you read this, there is a strong possibility the shutdown will be over…at least for a set period of time.

A culture of respect should be a non negotiable in Washington.

Inevitably, there will be those who feel disappointed by their Representatives because they either “gave up” too soon or were “too stubborn” to come to the negotiation table. It is only natural to feel that way.

I personally believe that there were good reasons to delay the implementation of the healthcare law. The President himself unilaterally delayed the employer aspect earlier this year (an act of questionable constitutionality in and of itself). There are others who believed the healthcare law needed to be immediately implemented.

While I may disagree with them, I choose not to question their sincerity or motivation. I respect their right to hold an opinion and I respect the political process that allows us to work through our disagreements, even if the process seems drawn out and painful. Throughout this shutdown, I do not believe the Democratic leaders in Washington have been doing the same. This includes the President and the Senate Majority Leader.

The issues that brought about this shutdown are important. The issues that have kept the shutdown in effect are just as consequential. Yet instead of debating the issues themselves, we heard the Democratic leadership use terms and labels like, ‘Hostage-taking,”  “extortion,” “Anarchists,” and “fanatics.” A senior White House advisor even stated that they were not for “negotiating with people who have a bomb strapped to their chest.”

They openly use terms and labels to paint Republicans as behaving in a criminal and lawless way. And they do this because Republicans are utilizing Congress’ constitutional power to choose what to fund and not fund. Not only is this labeling a substitute for substantive responses, it disrespects the the millions of Americans who hold the same views concerning the healthcare law. Furthermore, it shows the Democratic leadership’s lack of respect for our political system which is now inconveniently slowing them down from achieving their objectives. If Republicans held the American people hostage during the shutdown, then it follows that the Constitution acted as their tool to perpetuate that “extortion.” I absolutely refuse to accept this analogy we were being asked to believe.

We are a country built on the ideas of individual freedom and liberty. This sometimes means that we will have differing ideas about what is good and what is not. Also, we are a country built on a representative government of processes and order. Add these two things together and it means we will sometimes find our political system in a temporary stalemate as disagreements are resolved.

While the healthcare law and the debt ceiling are serious issues, I am just as concerned about the culture our elected leaders are developing in Washington. The moment we lose respect for different viewpoints and the political system we use to resolve those differences is the same the moment we lose one of Liberty’s most important cornerstones.

This shutdown demonstrates to us a startling lack of respect many have in Washington for those who hold opposing viewpoints. It also shows a concerning lack of respect for our political system.

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