I oppose Obamacare.

It shifts the cost burden of medicine towards the demographic with the lowest disposable income (the young). Despite the fact that it increases coverage, it does little to control costs. There are serious questions about its effect on small business, and the individual mandate runs counter to American ideals of liberty. There are people who will be helped by Obamacare, but on the whole, I believe it does more harm than good for this country.

But the harm that Obamacare might do pales in comparison to the harm the Republicans in the House are inflicting upon this country with their current obstinacy tactics. I’m not talking about the harm they’re doing to the 800,000 government workers who are currently without pay, or the millions of Americans who are not able to receive government services. I’m not talking about the harm they are doing to our international reputation. I’m not even talking about the 2 billion dollars that it will cost to close government offices and then (hopefully soon) open them again.

I’m talking about the fundamental harm to the institution of American Democracy. Lets take a moment and think about why democracy works. On average, democracies outperform other forms of government on every measure of well-being that has ever been measured: crime rates, education, health outcomes, sanitation, wealth, and so on. Why is it that Democracies are so much more effective than it’s rivals?

There are many reasons, but one of the primary ones is that in Democracy, when a faction loses, they have ways of expressing their displeasure and working to affect their desired changes on society that don’t involve harming the country. In Syria, people unhappy with the Assad regime take to the streets, shut down the economy, burn down hospitals, and cause the country to erupt into civil war. In the U.K., people unhappy with the Cameron administration raise money, make speeches, and prepare to vote him out of office when the next election comes about. The former destroys infrastructure and prevents growth and progress, harming the country immensely. The latter does not. This allows democracies to function even in times of stress and turmoil. In other words: the effectiveness of democracy is partly due to the incentives for the opposition party to work towards achieving power in ways that don’t cripple the country.

The House Republicans are undermining this principle. They lost a battle, and they seem intent on taking the country down with them.

Note that this doesn’t have to be the case. When the Supreme Court ruled against the Democrats in the 2000 Florida election, the democrats complained about the unfairness of the decision (and continue to do so to this day) but they didn’t shut down the government by refusing to pass a budget until Gore was instated as president. And in the past, the GOP has lost battles on abortion, on unions, and on environmental protection without shutting down the government. The current extremist wing of the GOP is holding the country hostage, and in doing so is destroying one of the pillars that holds up American Democracy. They are not only hurting the country now, but they’re setting a precedent that this is acceptable as a means of expressing your displeasure with electoral outcomes. If people out of power start undermining society to try and get their way, then one of he primary reasons that democracies are so successful will no longer be operating.

I share the GOP’s distaste for Obamacare – but the tactics that they are engaging in to combat it are causing exponentially more harm than the bill itself will.

(And lets not even start on self-fulfilling prophecies and the notion of legitimacy.)

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