The Critical Mass

The definition of insanity

"Here's Johnny Boehner!"

"Here's Johnny Boehner!"

I have a problem with the critics of Obama’s plan to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.

It is the same problem that I have with critics of the Affordable Care Act. And it is the same problem that I have with critics of the Senate’s decision to limit the ability of Congress to stall legislative action through the filibuster.

All three of these recent actions have inspired a great deal of shouting and hand-wringing, despite one obvious fact: No one knows yet how these issues will come out in the wash. Politicians and pundits claim they know what will happen – DISASTER! – but there’s no evidence to back up their claims. It’s a lot of uncharted territory, and the only proof that they cite is faith and dogma.

But here’s what we do know, absolutely and positively: On all three of these issues, the status quo wasn’t working.

Obama needed to make something happen to slow Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. He had to do something to get insurance to 30 to 40 million Americans. And the Democrats, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid taking the lead, had to do something to end the excessive use of Senate filibusters from preventing the elected government from getting done what it was elected to do.

Now, I have very strong suspicions that all three of these actions will work out for America. And if they don’t… so what?

If Obama’s plan to relax world sanctions against Iran in a trade for restrictions on its nuclear ambitions isn’t working after six months, we can go back to the same old policy that wasn’t working.

If the Affordable Care Act fails, we can allow it to be repealed by the Republicans – who have no plan of their own – and we’ll have the same old health insurance that wasn’t working. Thirty to 40 million uninsured Americans whose health care and medical treatments are paid for by insured Americans whose own expensive an inefficient insurance could be abruptly cancelled should they develop an illness, catapulting them into bankruptcy.

And if the elimination of the minority party’s ability to halt any progress that the majority of Americans called for during the elections of the past five years fails to get some policy enacted, then the Senate can always vote to re-instate the filibuster rules. And we’re back to where we started. Not getting anything done.

That’s the real issue. The Republicans have adopted a policy of obstruction, and the country’s stalled. It’s important that minority interests be protected, but it’s also important that things get done. This is a nation of 330 million people. We need the implementation of laws – like the Affordable Care Act. We need judges appointed and cabinet positions filled. And if diplomatic strategies haven’t worked for decades – like our Middle Eastern policies – we need to try something different.

What’s that old phrase? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.