Most people don’t have the time or patience to understand the political dynamics that led to today’s government shutdown. But let’s be clear about the root cause: the federal government is closed because Republicans do not want people to have access to affordable health insurance. It’s that simple. Republicans love to frame their zealotry as a defense of freedom; namely, the freedom to be bankrupted by a heart attack or car accident. It is this distorted, nihilistic, utterly fucked-up notion of “freedom” that has transformed the GOP into a party that is incapable of governing responsibly.
Republicans promised to unveil an alternative to the Affordable Care Act back in 2011. Two years later, they have still offered nothing because Republicans are fundamentally uninterested in health care reform. For them, the old, dysfunctional, highly uncompetitive insurance regime worked just fine. And if you were excluded from that system, well, you just weren’t deserving in the first place.
This shutdown will eventually end (hopefully, without a cataclysmic debt default) and the exchanges will continue to enroll people in coverage. Unfortunately, we’ll have to endure an extended conservative tantrum and the pointless idling of a million workers first.