Americans along for the ride

By Julian del Prado

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Following a stunning three weeks of good news, the government shutdown has reared its ugly head. Ted Cruz, junior senator for Texas, spoke on the issue for 21 hours in the name of de-funding Obamacare, and we grow perilously close to another debt ceiling battle. Partisanship has once again taken center-stage as the issue of the decade, and its dangers are as present as ever. The Republican Party has taken a stand on healthcare, taking the time to craft a bill that they knew would not clear the Senate.

Andrew Malone/Flickr

Why is Obamacare so important to the GOP? Furthermore, why is Obamacare so important to partisanship? After all, since the Affordable Care Act passed, democrats and republicans have been at each other’s throats over every piece of legislation in both houses of Congress.

The opinions of the democrats and republicans on Obamacare are clear. Republicans fear that a lack of funding coupled with an expansion of Medicaid would be disastrous for the economy. They also fear that having government involvement in the affairs of doctors and hospitals could compromise privacy. Democrats, on the other hand, feel that the number of uninsured citizens who could return to the workforce would more than justify these expansions. By not passing the Affordable Care Act, we would essentially be crippling our citizens: only through an individual mandate could we level off health care costs.

Fast forward to today, and republicans have given a 21-hour marathon speech as the latest in a line of legislative actions to counter democrats. Meanwhile, democrats continue to refuse the mere mention of compromise with republicans. This gridlock has presided over an economic crisis that has been slowly eating away at the middle class and constantly pushing more families into financial ruin.

Regardless of politics, the political gridlock in Washington does not seem to have helped anybody except for the people who started the recession in the first place. In theory, members of Congress represent the people and the states, so I have to wonder why they continue to act in the same manner despite several elections that nearly ousted them. Having seen each of these representatives elected and re-elected in both the House and Senate, I worry that this could mean that voters are responsible. So why would voters keep incompetent and out-of-touch representatives?

It is clear that we often don’t have a choice.

Gerrymandering has allowed politicians who have already received the vote to decide who will be voting in which district. This has left us with a country full of districts that vote one way every time, which hardly seems logical, given the conflict of interest. This system has left the public as hostages to their own parties, and it appears to be around to stay. We can be responsible enough as voters to phase these people out in the future, and until then we’re all along for the ride.

 

Julian del Prado is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]