Several busloads of World War II veterans on Tuesday ignored barriers set up on the National Mall in Washington and visited the memorial established to honor them and memorialize their colleagues who died in the war.
The Mississippi veterans had travelled to Washington as part of the Honor Flight program that brings veterans to the World War II memorial. But the government of the country they fought to preserve - and that nearly 400,000 of their generation died to defend - had shut down because of political bickering.
News reports Tuesday differed on how the veterans got in. Some reports said the veterans themselves pushed aside the barriers, while others reported a few GOP congressmen or U.S. Park Service employees were responsible.
However it happened, the veterans must have wondered what’s become of the country for which they risked everything. How, nearly 70 years later, could their country’s government be incapable of completing the most fundamental task?
How could their national leaders be so divided that they can’t pass a budget to operate the government for even a few months?
Their generation stormed the Normandy beaches, landed on Guadalcanal, and defeated some of history’s most evil forces. Now, their children and grandchildren can’t keep open the monuments honoring those who won and protected their freedoms.
Many are to blame for Washington’s political gridlock. But in this mess, the most blame goes to a few Republican House members who disrupted the lives of millions because they couldn’t get their way through the Constitutional process.
Whether you support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or not, the basic facts are these: Congress approved it, the president signed it, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its key sections. That’s the process established by the U.S. Constitution. Congress passed the law, the president signed it, the Supreme Court reviewed it.
Republican House members have tried 42 times to kill or undermine the act, commonly dubbed Obamacare. Their efforts have died in the Senate. That, too, is the Constitutional process.
Now, some Republicans are trying to stop Obamacare through the routine budgeting process. The process spelled out by George Washington, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin didn’t work for them, and so they have shut down most of the federal government.
Those Republicans believe Obamacare will wreck the country. Let’s hope they are wrong. But if they are right, there’s a process for removing those who supported it. It’s the election process. The entire House and a third of the Senate will be up for re-election next year.
If the people decide that Obamacare is bad for the country, they can throw out the bums who supported it.
Until then, it’s time for House Republicans to honor the Constitutional process and remove the obstacles to a federal budget. Let routine food inspections resume, let medical research continue, and let World War II veterans get the hero’s welcome they deserve at their memorial.