Commentary: A National Disgrace Finally Comes to an End

For 16 days, the nation was rocked by an unnecessary government shutdown, exposing the Republicans’ true colors.

Posted: 10/17/2013 11:23 AM EDT

After more than two weeks of a government shutdown and the threat of a debt cliff that was already causing shockwaves around the world, it has finally come to this: A deal that should have been reached a month ago.

In the end, the Republicans got absolutely nothing for the financial hardship they caused to hundreds of thousands of furloughed government workers and the fears they unleashed on the financial markets around the globe. And their overarching passion – a determination to block the implementation of Obamacare – went nowhere.

After 16 days of disrupting the lives of Americans and presenting a Three-Stooges-like image of American governance to the world, the question now is whether the Republicans have learned anything from this horrendous spectacle.

The answer came from House Speaker John Boehner. “We fought the good fight,” he told a radio station in Ohio. “We just didn’t win.”

What good fight? The gridlock in Washington and the unnecessary government shutdown has had a price tag in the billions of dollars. The shutdown has cut into the nation’s economic growth and many analysts suggest that growth for the year will be anemic. The shutdown has produced a significant drop in consumer confidence, the steepest such decline in five years.

What’s more, things are not likely to get much better with the uncertainty of the debt issue lingering. The agreement passed by Congress and signed by President Obama merely postpones the discussions until next year.

The saddest feature of all this drama is that the Republicans, as Boehner’s comments indicate, seem completely oblivious to the pain their senseless maneuvers have caused their fellow Americans – many of them Black and brown and living on the margins. While the Republicans condemned the Affordable Care Act as everything from being murderous policy to representing the end of civilization, Obamacare rolled along.

Meanwhile, the president and Senate Democrats were right to put their feet down and maintain that health care would be a non-negotiable item. After all, someone has to care about the concerns of everyday Americans, too many of whom have no medical insurance.

At the very least, the Republican leadership and their wild-eyed Tea Party zealots are exposed for what they truly are: Self-centered blowhards who are less concerned with the plight of regular Americans and the nation’s standing internationally than they are in their small parochial interests.

They have always been a group who would overturn any cart, cripple any progress simply to further their own interests. The difference is that that strategy is now exposed for everyone to see with perfect clarity.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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