Putting Words in the President’s Mouth

I am fairly certain President Obama does not need my help writing speeches, but what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t pretend to put words in other people’s mouths, right? In my dream world, I wish President Obama would address the nation with the following:

Good morning my fellow Americans.

It is with some measure of sadness that I announce the United States government has shutdown. While vital and important offices will remain open and our military personnel will be paid, a variety of other offices will close today: 20% of government employees are, technically speaking, out of work today. These are your friends and neighbors. Please consider inviting them to dinner tonight. Help ease their financial burden.

We have reached this impasse because too many Republican’s in the House of Representatives have chosen not to negotiate in good faith with their colleagues across the aisle.

We are, quite frankly, in the midst of a direct attack on the fundamental tenets of democracy.

Our country is at risk. When a United States Senator stands for 21 hours and compares the Affordable Care Act to the spread of nazism in Europe, something is amiss.

In 2012, you might remember, America held an election. I was blessed and honored that 61 million Americans voted to endorse my presidency, including the Affordable Care Act.

In the years of my presidency, Republican members of Congress have had ample opportunity to discuss various parts of this signature piece of legislation. During those years, we could have discussed implementation, negotiated individual pieces, and tested various of the mandates for bugs. Most pointedly, we could have discussed those pieces of the legislation that mirror past Republican health-care ideas and we could have worked to establish the free-market exchanges as viable, consumer and business friendly alternatives to our current system. I fully realize that many Americans did not vote for me. I would have happily worked with their Representatives to tweak the ACA.

Instead, my Congressional opponents have diligently worked to defund, obfuscate, and engage in illogical, irrational, and down-right lies regarding our attempts at ensuring all Americans have access to basic health care. If they had worked that hard on the people’s business, we might have the greatest health care system in the world.

I fully understand those Americans who have reservations about large government agencies and I respect those people who are philosophically opposed to centralized government entities. It is important that we have a dialogue about the roles and responsibilities of the government. Our founders would want nothing less.

But our founders would also demand that we recognize elections matter. For 6 years, we have watched Republicans ignore the democratic process and threaten the very fabric of our country.

They have not, my fellow Americans, negotiated in good faith. They have, instead, chosen the path of insanity–they perform the same task 40 times and expect a different result. They are not standing on principle. They are stomping on democracy.

We are now faced with the fruits of those labors.

Those few men and women in Congress who so strongly oppose working within the democratic process will tell you that I refuse to negotiate and that I am being unreasonable.

They clearly don’t have faith in your ability to understand meaning of “negotiate” and “compromise.”

For negotiation and compromise to work, as you all know, both sides must put forth something they value. The men and women then gather around the table and exchange ideas. They argue, they disagree, they consider what’s best both for themselves, the people they represent, and for the country at large.

For instance, I am more than willing to meet with the Iranian leadership. We have imposed sanctions on their country. They have, in the past, engaged in behavior we find disturbing and dangerous. As we negotiate, we might reduce sanctions as they change behavior.

I was more than willing to listen to business leaders tell me we needed to delay the business mandate while we worked on the logistics of implementation. We gladly compromised as we seek a workable solution.

That’s negotiating.

In our current domestic situation, the Republicans would like me to choose between ending affordable insurance for the 46 million uninsured Americans or shutting down the government.

That’s not a choice. For them or for me. I value keeping the government open and insuring Americans. Republican’s value ending the Affordable Care Act. We are forced to conclude, then, they do not value keeping the government open. What, I ask then, are they willing to give up in this negotiation? Their idea of compromise, it appears, is that I do exactly what they want.

The Affordable Care Act was passed during a democratic vote, following the Constitutional rules and regulations that form the bedrock of our nation. Time and time again (in fact 40 times) Republicans have followed that same process and failed to rescind or change that vote.

Like a toddler denied a candy bar, Republicans are demanding I give them everything they want or they will hold their breath, scream, and throw a fit. It’s a temper-tantrum approach to government.

The federal government is being held hostage because one political party has been hijacked by political ideologues and extremists.

Make no mistake: the United States government is shut down today because Republicans have chosen to take us down this path. They have chosen party platforms and political aspirations over the American people.

In the coming days, we will work tirelessly to manage the fallout from this political stunt. We will maintain those necessary and relevant government agencies and limit, as much as we can, the damage a government shutdown can cause.

The United States government will pay its bills and fulfill its responsibilities.

Those are things, my fellow Americans, that are non-negotiable. Those are the hallmarks of democracy.

Good night and God Bless America.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

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Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

FiveThirtyEight

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Scott Adams' Blog

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

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