With most of the government workforce back on the job and Uncle Sam able to borrow what it needs to pay bills for the next three months, the question everyone is asking is: “Did anyone win?”
The simple answer, of course, is “no.” Dysfunctional conditions that led to the first government shutdown in 17 years and an unnecessary close call to debt default seldom result in winners. This case was hardly an exception.
Among the losers, the loud and shrill right wing of the Republican Party is, of course, screaming the loudest and promising retribution for any Republican who dared do something right — like vote for the deal that solved things for now.
President Barack Obama came out better than the right wing wanted. Effects of the budget deal on Obamacare are minor and nowhere as catastrophic as they wanted. But the right lost more because their concentration on gutting the President’s signature health care bill denied them a chance to capitalize on the catastrophic debut of the health care exchanges where computer glitches ruled the day…and week.
And the President knows all too well that the whole mess could be repeated in January and February of next year with an outcome that is neither certain nor desirable.
The nation’s economy lost big time with estimates topping $26 billion in negative impact. Tourism-related industries lost as well, especially those connected with the shuttered national parks and other government-related attractions.
If polls are correct, Republicans lost more than Democrats, particularly in public approval, and more Americans blamed the party of the elephant than anyone else.
Most Americans blame the tea party and the members of Congress that sham organization supports and, in this case, the blame is well placed. Voter anger may die down before the elections next year but those on the right have another chance to screw up again and create even more voter anger if a more permanent budget deal is not reached by January 15, 2014, and the debt limit is not extended on a longer basis by February 7.
Did the tea party learn its lesson in the debacle that technically ended last night with votes in the Senate and House? Based on public statements by the hard-core TP types who genuflect to falsely-claimed values, the answer is “no way” and the group has shown little ability to learn from its many past mistakes.
But when all is said and done, the biggest loser was America itself and those who call this nation home.
America has become, by an large, a laughing stock on the world stage and a nation that is pitied more than admired.
After each of the public spectacles like the one just ended, anyone who calls themselves Americans have fewer reasons to feel proud of their heritage or the nation that once fostered pride and fearless devotion.
America the beautiful has, in too many ways, become an ugly place where partisanship supplants patriotism. The land of the free, sadly, no longer exists for many Americans and it is more a home of the grave.
The real losers are any of us who try to think of America first and choose not to suffer under the labels of political party or philosophy.
If America is lost, the fault ultimately will be ours because the ability to save American exists with us and us alone.
If we’re up to the task.