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Domestic dispute

The shutdown is tearing America apart, one house at a time



In this time of partisan rancor, it is easy to overlook the brave Americans hurt by Washington's political gamesmanship. Of course I am referring to myself.

My girlfriend works for the U.S. Forest Service, performing important scientific experiments that I totally understand, and she has been furloughed since last Tuesday. Instead of satisfying her lifelong ambition to contribute to the field of wildlife biology, she has been home watching "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" on Netflix.

That is a problem, since I work from home and need to keep our internet bandwidth open so that Facebook refreshes quickly. My delicate work as a professional writer is nigh impossible to perform with my girlfriend looking on. Heaven forbid I should investigate some of the internet's tasteful erotica. I can barely watch a third video of cats using the toilet without her asking when I am going to put up the storm windows.

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"Not now," I say, the heart-cry of a struggling nation. "I'm working."

But my lamentations fall on deaf ears. That is why I demand that President Barack Obama end this government shutdown and do whatever it takes to get America's girlfriends working again.

Each side deserves its portion of blame for the present impasse. I have tried to negotiate with my girlfriend, but she refuses to compromise. Just yesterday, she asked me to mail the heating bill, ramming through an afternoon agenda that ignored the will of the people to reach level 25 in Diablo III.

Fully 60 percent of the electorate opposed her plan, plus or minus 10 percent, but I remained calm, even as my most deeply held convictions fell under attack. Although her scheme contradicted the very principles on which this household was founded, I offered to compromise.

"I'll pay the heating bill," I said, "but we're not putting up the storm windows, and you have to bake a pie."

I spoke eloquently on the subject and at some length, but my girlfriend remained unmoved. Even as we agreed that the heating bill must be paid, she refused to consider my proposal. I returned to the negotiating table in good faith, suggesting that in the interest of resolving this problem quickly, I would allow her to skip the pie. Her counteroffer cannot be repeated in polite company.

What am I to do with such intransigence? The situation is especially vexing because no one wants a cold house less than I. Autumn is setting in, and the home is getting drafty, especially over by the windows. In these troubled times, ordinary, hardworking Americans need central heating more than ever, but my girlfriend continues to hold our heating bill hostage to her inflexible demands.

That is why I am calling on President Obama to end this foolish shutdown and get our federal employees back to their offices where they belong. In addition to restoring our fragmented domestic politics, he has the opportunity to refresh the very roots of democracy. All he has to do is compromise.

Democracy is not about the many outvoting the few. The founding fathers designed our constitution to reflect the will of the people, as expressed on the floor of the House of Representatives. The American people gave control of that half of the legislative third of our federal government to the Republican party, and their mandate is clear.

Fully 46 percent of voters oppose Obamacare, and 37 percent oppose the Affordable Care Act. It is House Republicans' duty to represent this majority against the un-democratic collusion of the President, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the previous House of Representatives.

In tying continued funding of the government to defunding of the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Party has stood by its principles. It's even stood slightly away from them by offering to settle for a delay in implementation and repeal of the medical device tax. Yet President Obama refuses to compromise, even as he faces the chance to determine the future of American government.

Are we to live in a country where every bill that is passed by Congress, ratified by the chief executive and upheld by the Supreme Court becomes a law? Such a system would make a mockery of American liberty. Every elected representative would become a lawmaker, and every hardworking writer a slave to the girlfriend-utility complex. Democracy would become the tyranny of the majority, and dedicated patriots such as myself would be crushed beneath its iron heel.

I say no. Far better to live in the America our founding fathers intended, where everyone gets his way all the time. That's the system that made this country great, and it's the one that will nurse our fragile households back to health.

All I am asking is that President Obama and Senate Democrats compromise by giving House Republicans what they want, and we can get this country moving again. Only when our nation's girlfriends go back to work can Americans be truly free. Let the winds of freedom whistle through the windows of this great land, so the furnace of democracy can make that pinging sound once more.

Dan Brooks writes about politics, culture and lying at His column appears every other week in the Independent.


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