This article will appear in the October 28, 2013 edition of The Nation.

The shutdown of the government is a crisis for Americans, who rely not just on the services provided by the affected agencies but on the efficiency of their delivery. When 800,000 federal employees are furloughed, it is not just the immediate damage that is of consequence; over time, the whole system begins to fray and weaken. While those furloughed employees will eventually be paid, the abrupt cutoff in pay has a ripple effect in the broader community. At a time when America’s economic recovery is at best uneven, the financial uncertainties brought about by the shutdown have idled not just large federal contractors but small businesses on Main Street.

Another crisis is playing out as well, one that must be understood and addressed if this country is to avoid the kind of blackmail that might satisfy Ted Cruz and the Tea Party firebrands in the House, but that most Americans will understand as a threat to democracy.

The shutdown (and the threat to allow a debt default) seeks to undo the results of the 2012 election by giving a minority within the losing party the power to decide whether government will operate or not. The founders of the American experiment established a separation of powers, but that is not the cause of today’s crisis. In 2012, Barack Obama won the presidency by 5 million votes. He won 51 percent of the overall vote, and he won the Electoral College 332 to 206. But the Democratic victory did not end there. The Democrats were expected to lose Senate seats, but they actually gained, and the overall turnout in those races gave them a 10 million–vote advantage. In House races, Democrats secured an overall margin of 1.7 million votes; the chamber is under Republican control not because of the desires of American voters, but because of a combination of gerrymandering, big money and winner-take-all voting structures…

[DKB url=”” text=”Tea Party extremists have successfully shut down the federal government and if they’re not stopped, they’ll succeed in shutting down our economy, too. This is no way to govern, and we deserve better. Add your voice today and call for ending this irresponsible shutdown immediately. It’s time to reopen our government and restart our economy.” title=”Add your voice” type=”large” style=”normal” color=”blue” textcolor=”#ffffff” opennewwindow=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]

© 2013 | Paid for by Chris Coons for Delaware, Heidi for Senate, Kaine for Virginia, Menendez for Senate, and Friends of Jeanne Shaheen.