• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


The Center Cannot Hold

The real stakes on the government shutdown.

October 6, 2013

Both of my parents were conservative Republicans. My brother leans liberal, and I am pretty far to the left of him, so we had some lively dinner table conversations when I was growing up, "conversations" being an umbrella term that encompasses yelling, table banging, interrupting, bursting into tears and running from the room, door slamming and occasional name calling.

We were passionate, intense people, and my teenage years were rough times. But when the dust cleared, we were all basically on the same side of most political issues. We wanted what was best for the greatest number of people, while protecting the vulnerable minority. We had trouble agreeing on how to accomplish this, but none of us questioned that that was the role of government.

My parents' small-government, bootstraps stance might seem ironic today in light of my father's career with the IRS, our national emblem of bureaucratic interference. But for them, "small government" didn't mean "no government."

They believed that large business owners, successful attorneys and financiers, and the like deserved to live in luxury because they had used their superior brains and work ethic to make their mark on the world, and because they were job creators (zoom in on offspring rolling their eyes meaningfully at one another), but they never questioned the necessity of taxing those who could afford to pay, to ensure that everyone was fed, clothed, housed and schooled.

They didn't believe in allowing children to go hungry. Anyone's children.

WIC will run out of funds if the shutdown isn't resolved by the end of the month. Indigent parents rely on this program for infant formula and for healthy staples. There is no backup plan for these families.

They didn't believe in abandoning elderly or disabled people, either. The Social Security Administration won't have enough personnel to process new  claims during the shutdown.

They certainly didn't believe in shorting those who had risked their lives for our country. The VA will run out of funds for disability and pension payments in a few weeks.

This is only a sampling of programs that may run dry.

They also believed in rule of law. And no, this isn't a case of both sides being at fault, unwilling to compromise, with regular people being used as pawns. The House conservatives are holding us hostage to force the blockage of a bill that has already been signed into law. It is just bullying. (And for the record, it is not Obamacare. The ACA is an already compromised version of the more comprehensive and compassionate act that the President proposed. It is the national version of the policy implemented by Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts.)

My father, who was one of nine boisterous siblings in a working-poor Irish American family, used to joke that the family motto was, "What do you think of the weather? Take either side." But this high stakes adversarialism is no joke.

If my dad were here, I know he would say the same.



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