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One Positive Effect of U.S. Government Shutdown October, 2013
While Much of the U.S. Government was Closed Down, Congress Still Played Games
"It's an ill wind that blows no good...."
Like the majority of Americans, I was appalled when Congress allowed the closure of most U.S. government services at midnight October 1, 2013 after an extremist faction forced its party to try to hijack the Affordable Healthcare Act. I hope there are some saner heads within the GOP and that moderate Republicans will wrest control of their party from that small bullying group. Our country needs bipartisan cooperation and compromise for the good of the country and all of its citizens.
Every day this issue remained unresolved and our government departments were shuttered weakened us as a nation. This type of political impasse, increasingly common in a government where certain groups ignore the good of the country and all its people, can irrevocably harm our economy and our international standing. Because this is a volatile issue, I hesitated before I wrote the title to this hub and included the words, "positive effect." Now I will explain why I used them.
This is my first political topic hub, but it is not, as you may think, a hub about the government shutdown. Instead, my focus is on one aspect of that situation that may be seen as positive, even though the overall action of government closure was negative. Hence that old saw, "It's an ill wind...."
I refer to the continuing resolution that was passed in March, 2013 with a rider sneakily attached at the last minute--the Monanto Protection Act. This abominable and unprecedented protection for a huge biochemical company originated with the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2012, and its language was perfected to Monsanto's liking by Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blount working with Monsanto personnel. Missouri, you see, is Monsanto's corporate home.
The Monsanto Protection Act, when it became known, sparked outrage among Americans who are against GMOs, tens of thousands of whom signed a petition against it written by the nonprofit Center for Food Safety. Groups protesting the insertion of this rider without Congressional hearings or public input via a letter to Capitol Hill included 129 food retailers, farming organizations, organic food companies and consumer organizations.
This unpopular legislation would have prohibited courts from preventing Monsanto's sale or planting of any GMOs challenged by organic or other non-GMO farmers, public health groups or anyone concerned about the health and environmental effects posed by those GMOs.
In effect, chemical giant Monsanto would have been given carte blanche to plant GMO crops even if their legality was challenged. Even though there are no long-term studies showing their health and environmental effects. In spite of independent study results showing GMOs are harmful. With no recourse to anyone through the country's court system because it would be hamstrung by such legislation.
Can you believe this? Citizens who recognize the stranglehold deep-pocketed and powerful corporations such as Monsanto have on the country through their donations to Congressional campaigns could believe it...and they didn't like it. There was a firestorm of dissent across America.
Senator Barbara Mikulski, who succeeded the late Senator Daniel Innouye as chairperson of the Appropriations Committee in December, 2012, worked hard to kill the Monsanto Protection Act during budget battles preceding the government shutdown. She included language in the Senate budget bill version that would have caused its demise. That version is a moot point at this stage, but the original resolution expired and, with it, the Monsanto Protection Act.
It isn't likely this overwhemingly unpopular rider will reappear in any future budget or farm bills before Congress. The people spoke...and this time they heard us in Washington. There's a lesson here for American voters that "We, the People" do have power. We simply have to use it.
Grassroots efforts build strength from numbers of citizens who become actively involved. Get involved. Sign petitions. Make phone calls or write letters to your Congressional representatives and let them know where you stand on issues. Protests didn't have to end when the decade of the '60s ended. "We, the People" have voices...we have votes...we can make our wishes known. Let's continue to do so, in increasingly large numbers. Congress is supposed to work for us. Every senator and representative of the House needs to be reminded of that fact because they appear to have forgotten their duty. Any politician who was voted into office can be voted out--no matter how full his or her campaign chest is with money from big corporations. "We, the People" have that power. If we don't use it, we are giving away our country and our rights.
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© 2013 Jaye Denman