Tumbling Down

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 11.52.30 AMAs I write it seems very likely that for the first time in almost 18 years, the United States government will be shutting down.  Unless some kind of agreement is reached between the House and the Senate, a good number of services will cease, national parks will close, and thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.  The last time we saw this kind of brinksmanship was back when Mr. Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

I am not qualified to speak authoritatively on this impasse.  I’m just an ordinary citizen.  From my perspective, however, the problem seems to be with a small group within one party who are holding their own party and the rest of the country hostage until the get their way.  These folks seem convinced that Health Reform, despite the fact that it is the law of the land, must be stopped – apparently at all costs.  According to their public statements, they are sure the majority of Americans agree.

Pardon me if I have missed something, but I thought our government was supposed to function as a democratic republic, not as a parliamentary democracy.  In Great Britain a small group within a coalition government can behave this way because they are needed to maintain a majority in the House of Commons.  It’s not supposed to work that way in the American system.

I’m old enough to remember how Lyndon Johnson managed to get the Civil Rights Act passed (and funded) despite resistance from Southern Democrats.  As stubborn as Strom Thurmond and his ilk were, even they couldn’t manage to shut down the government.  Back then, the rest of our elected leaders wouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior.

I was already concerned that my own representative, Mr. Southerland, has been championing cuts in food stamps (SNAP) as a moral imperative.  He seems to think that the $4.50 a day in benefits that children in low-income families, the disabled, the elderly and a few single people receive is morally corrosive.  For the life of me, I can’t see what’s moral about increasing hunger in a nation of plenty.  When I call his office, the staff is courteous and gracious.  They seem to listen, but I doubt my objections are making much difference.

It’s hard to offer a coherent word about behavior that seems so incoherent.  I could quote the myriad passages of scripture which refer to justice and hunger, but the passage that keeps coming back to me is the story of Sampson.  He defeated his opponents by bring the entire temple crashing down on them.  Unfortunately, he also brought the temple crashing down on himself.

When the rubble clears from this imbroglio, nobody will be the winner.

About Brant Copeland

I was born in Brownsville, Texas, grew up in San Antonio and in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I'm the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Tallahassee, Florida.
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2 Responses to Tumbling Down

  1. David Custis says:

    Brant, Again thank you for your blog. Also what’s moral about defunding Obamacare, which in spite of its worts, is designed to provide health care coverage for low income folks who don’t have any. Scott and the Florida legislature haven’t done much to help by nixing Medicaid expansion.

  2. sue safford says:

    Thank you for speaking out. I have had the same experience with the Representative mouthing platitudes that make no sense at all. Many of my neighbors, who are already at or below the poverty level, here at Westminster Gardens (Georgia Belle) have lost their food stamps and were only getting a small amount to begin with, e.g., $16 a month. It is outrageous that the few can prevail but even worse that the majority let them. And here in the state of Florida, state agency HR departments apparently are being forbidden to give out information about health care.benefits under the new law. Jeremiah and God are weeping.

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