Leaf season in the mountains of North Carolina is big business. It’s the time of year when many businesses get out of the red and into the black as tourists flood western North Carolina to view the fall foliage. Experts estimate that the season brings in more than $1 billion to the state.
This year, though, the tourist industry is taking a hit. With the government shutdown, National Parks, including Great Smokey Mountain, are closed. So are campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails and all facilities along the Blue Ridge Parkway. If the shutdown lasts past the end of October, a lot of western North Carolina families will have a lean Christmas and a cold winter.
And they can thank freshman Congressman Mark Meadows of the 11th Congressional District. Meadows, whose district covers most of western North Carolina, is getting plenty of national press as “the architect” of the government shutdown. He penned a letter that tied raising the debt ceiling with defunding Obamacare. He then got 79 like-minded Representatives to sign it.
You wouldn’t think that 79 out of 435 members would have much impact. But these days the Tea Party is holding the whole GOP caucus hostage. They managed to force Speaker John Boehner to take up their cause and the rest is history–along with western North Carolina’s leaf dollars.
And that’s the problem with people like Mark Meadows and his Tea Party compatriots. They came to Washington with all the answers but forgot to ask the right questions. They’re too busy with ideological purity and their Obamacare obsession to think about the unintended consequences of their actions–or maybe they just don’t care. Regardless, they obviously don’t understand how government works or how it affects people’s lives.
They are fighting a law that has been passed by Congress, signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court. And it hasn’t even been implemented yet. We don’t know if it will work, though plenty of smart people think it will, but if it doesn’t the American people will demand the program is either fixed or scrapped. That’s for sure.
Meadows and his ilk are wearing cloaks of arrogant self-righteousness and the blinders of ideologues. They are taking money out of the pockets of their own constituents to fund an ideological jihad. That’s just wrong. They should pay a steep price for their irresponsibility.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >