If you watch the anarchist tirades coming from extremist Republicans in the House, you’d think they believe that the government that governs best is a government that doesn’t exist at all.
But behind all the slogans of the Tea Party – and all the thinly veiled calls for anarchy in Washington – is a reality: The American people don’t want a future without government.
When was the last time the anarchy gang called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children’s toys? Or for inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria? Or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause horrible deformities in our babies?
When? Never. In fact, whenever the anarchists make any headway in their quest and cause damage to our government, the opposite happens.
After the sequester kicked in, Republicans immediately turned around and called on us to protect funding for our national defense and to keep our air traffic controllers on the job.
And now that the House Republicans have shut down the government – holding the country hostage because of some imaginary government “health care boogeyman” – Republicans almost immediately turned around and called on us to start reopening parts of our government.
Why do they do this? Because the boogeyman government in the alternate universe of their fiery political speeches isn’t real. It doesn’t exist.
Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
- Provide for the national defense.
- Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
- Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed.
These things did not appear by magic. In each instance, we made a choice as a people to come together. We made that choice because we wanted to be a country with a foundation that would allow anyone to have a chance to succeed.
The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that the white pills we take are antibiotics and not baking soda. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees crash tests to make sure our new cars have functioning brakes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes sure that babies’ car seats don’t collapse in a crash and that toasters don’t explode.
We are alive, we are healthier, we are stronger because of government. Alive, healthier, stronger because of what we did together.
We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is, “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” We are not a country that tolerates dangerous drugs, unsafe meat, dirty air, or toxic mortgages.
We are not that nation. We have never been that nation. And we never will be that nation.
The political minority in the House that condemns government and begged for this shutdown has its day. But like all the reckless and extremist factions that have come before it, its day will pass – and the government will get back to the work we have chosen to do together.