The U.S. system of majority rule, with checks and balances to protect the minority, does not envision one person grinding the government to a halt single-handedly.
Yet that is what freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is trying to do, with government funding set to run out on Monday.
He is using odd parliamentary maneuvers and doing back flips to try to defund Obamacare. His justification for this solo crusade is that "the people to whom I believe I am accountable are the men and women in Texas" -- 26 million of the nation's 314 million people. He believes he has no obligation to the other 92%.
But what about his state? Texas ranks No. 1 in the nation for the highest percentage of people without health insurance -- 25% in 2012, compared with just over 15% nationally. Texas also has lower rates of people with private health insurance -- 55%, compared with 64% nationally.
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As Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has noted, Obamacare is the law of the land and would continue to be implemented even if the federal government was shut down. Much of the funding is mandatory spending and cannot be repealed in a three-month continuing resolution that funds other parts of the government. Repealing mandatory spending, Coburn points out, would require two-thirds of the House and 67 votes in the Senate.
Former President Bill Clinton, in a Sept. 4 speech, explained well how we should think about Obamacare: "The benefits of reform can't be fully realized, and the problems certainly can't be solved, unless both the supporters and the opponents of the original legislation work together to implement it and address the issues that arise whenever you change a system this complex."
But Cruz is not about making the law work. As each day passes, he shows that he's out for Numero Uno -- launching himself on the national stage -- at a devastating cost, tantamount to defeat, for the people of his state and the United States.
To end Obamacare, Cruz would need two houses of Congress and the president, and he doesn't have that. Attempted rule by one senator and a majority only in the House is not what the American system is about.