Tonawanda News — I was in a pretty good mood.
Fall is my favorite season. The leaves are turning, nights are cool, days are sunny. Our National Pastime is in playoff mode with my St. Louis Cardinals owning the best record in the National League.
There’s Sam Adams Octoberfest beer and apple cider is about to be in season. Pumpkin spiced coffees are abundant.
Heck, not even the Bills are weighing me down. They’re 2-2 and just beat the defending Super Bowl champions!
It’s a good time to be me.
With all that mojo it would take something rather ominous to knock me off stride right now. Of course, that’s what we’ve got Congress for.
Bless their little hearts, they’ve shut down the federal government. Well, not really. Most of it — the important parts — are still up and running. Meat inspectors, the 20 or so left after our last round of budget cuts, are still ensuring the sanctity of the American hamburger. The military is still doing its thing. Old people are still getting money in the mail — for that matter, we’re still getting mail because the postal service knows not of a shutdown. Neither wind, nor rain nor congressional stalemate, as the saying goes.
But the national parks are closed. And lots of other stuff that’s pretty important unless you’re trying to make it sound like shutting down the U.S. government is not really such a big deal after all. Tourists across the country who aren’t much for keeping up with current events are turning up all sorts of places only to be told they have to leave: the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, etc.
Hope you’re not planning a vacation in the next week or two.
So why are we in this mess, you ask? Well, gather round, folks, I’ve got a story to tell.
Once upon a time a man went around the whole country telling people he would give them access to affordable health insurance if they voted for him for president.
As it turns out, people really like being able to afford a doctor when they’re sick so they did it and he won the election.
Then, to everyone’s shock and horror, he proceeded to do exactly what he’d promised. He got those mean, grumbly congressmen to go along with the plan. The law was passed and lots of people had lots to say about it, some good things and some very bad, no-good rotten things.
Then, a few years later that man who went around the country the first time promising he would give people access to affordable health insurance had to do it again. And because people still liked going to doctors when they’re sick, they voted for him again and he won again.
Now, because they lost in two elections, the people who said the very bad, no-good rotten things about that man who got all those votes have discovered they don’t like losing very much at all. And they’ve taken their ball and they’re going home. Harumph!
Except not really because this is the real world and not a fairy tale. Decisions have consequences.
Thankfully, I can still kick back, drink a good beer and watch a baseball game to calm my nerves. Tell that to the 800,000 federal employees who got a pink slip at midnight Tuesday.
Of course, this is a manufactured crisis. Republicans have decided repealing Obamacare is the most important thing in the history of the world — some have likened it to defeating the Nazis, I kid you not — they’ve decided to shut down the government rather than let it happen.
And, coincidentally, on the first day of the shutdown that program that everyone hates went into effect. As you may have surmised, the sky did not, in fact, fall down. The forces of tyranny remain held at bay (unless you count Congress, which is still here).
Actually, so many people wanted to buy into the health insurance they crashed the websites.
Good thing we shut down the government because of how much people would suffer. The biggest problem was a “404 page not found” error on a website for a couple hours — so it would appears as though we’re going to make it through this darkest of hours pretty much unscathed.
So, Congress — and I’m really looking at you, here, Republicans — get this thing done so I can go back to my pumpkin coffee and Cardinals baseball in peace.
Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.