One week from today, I should be sitting on an 18-foot raft with an ice-cold beer in my hand, sunhat draped over my face and hundreds of miles of the Grand Canyon river ahead of me.
Instead, in the face of this childish government shutdown, I’ll probably be at home in Montrose, or, with luck, near the put-in at Lee’s Ferry facing more bad smells from our elected officials we call “leaders.”
There will be more idiotic statements made by the gravelly, three-pack-a-day cigarette smoker’s voice of House Speaker John Boehner – as if he has something new and inspirational to tell us. Senator Harry Reid will once again try his Jedi-mind-trick statements to piss off Boehner. President Obama, in all his wonderful wisdom of late, will continue to sit back and watch the squabbling continue, with no offers of any sort of solution or leadership to navigate our way out of this mess. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if they have a D or an R behind their name in Washington right now: they all deserve to be fired, just as any employee would be fired for not doing his or her job.
Scott “Soft Hands” Tipton, our esteemed Third District Representative, should be fired for being a follower and not a leader. I told him that myself last week, in a long-winded letter. I’m pretty sure he didn’t read it. You should send a long-winded letters, as well. Of course these so-called “leaders” on the right side of the aisle in Washington say this whole thing boils down to Obamacare. They want it repealed desperately.
I am not going to sit here and tell you about the merits of Obamacare. When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, yes, it is confusing, and I will admit I don’t understand all of it. But for as long as I can remember, I have always scratched my head when I’ve received medical bills and/or health insurance statements in the mail. I’m not sure rocket scientists, brain surgeons or Nobel Prize winners can understand how health insurance works in the U.S., either, let alone why it is so damned expensive. If you tell me you understand health insurance and how it works, I say you’re a liar.
And that’s how I feel about Boehner and the rest of his cronies who are holding up every sort of progress in this country. They say Obamacare is bad – that they know it’s going to cost taxpayers money, and that it's a bad thing. The fact of the matter is they don’t understand health insurance, and they know it. And if the Boehner and Co. really do understand health insurance, then why haven’t they tried to improve it in the past? Yes, we may have the best health care system in the world (although that’s debatable), but what good is it if you can’t afford it? I say it’s too little too late for Republicans in Washington to pretend they know better about health-care insurance. What I would like to hear from them right now is that, OK, they don’t believe Obamacare good, but here’s how they can improve it. How they can help lower and middle-class families afford it; how they can make it better. We have yet to hear that anything along those lines from the right side of the aisle. And they don’t like an individual mandate? That’s a Republican idea from the get-go. Boehner and Co. have lost their identity in all of this, and there’s no hope they can save face.
Make no mistake about it, I am not much happier with President Obama right now, either. While I believe he should dig his heels in on Obamacare, I don’t like the fact that he’s being relentless about not allowing individual states to bankroll National Parks while the federal government is shut down. Why not let the House pass a piecemeal plan to open up at least certain portions of the government, like, say the National Parks? I know he has the political advantage in all of this, but get over it. Our so-called “leaders” need to throw us a bone here.
Of course, I am being very selfish here. Me and my three-week vacation in the Grand Canyon is not of national importance. There are people who are furloughed right now who are going to struggle to make rent. There are veterans, people who have fought for our way of life, who will not receive the benefits they deserve. We’ve all read about the children who may not be able to receive cancer treatment while the government is shut down. Things are bad right now, and I’m pissed off about it. You should be too.
If there is a takeaway lesson in this shutdown, it’s that we need to become a society that emphasizes the importance of being good neighbors, and feel sympathy for those beleaguered members of our community. Eating breakfast at a restaurant in Montrose earlier this week, I overheard a conversation with a woman who’d been furloughed because of the shutdown. With no pay, she went to this restaurant, where she had worked in the past, and asked if there was any work she could do. The owners took her on. She’s able to bring in income once again, despite the Washington gridlock. This is the way the world works. Not politics.
My neighbor, despite his or her political affiliation, is more important to me than Soft-Hands Tipton and It’s-Not-My-Mess Obama. We need to take a look around and realize that the people surrounding us are what’s important, and not our “leaders” in Washington. We are on our own. Our leaders have turned into junkies who need their next political fix, and there’s nothing we can do about it except take note: Only we will take care of ourselves. We live in sad times.
For the record, I never intend to get political in this column; it’s usually reserved for mindless sports banter. But with my long-awaited vacation going down the tubes, I couldn’t help myself.
Hell, I couldn’t even get really excited about the Broncos scoring 50 points last week.
Class action lawsuit, anyone? This gridlock, along with the political vitriol, violates the Eighth Amendment. And anyone who says this shutdown isn’t cruel and unusual punishment can eat my Grand Canyon river permit.