In the political season, anything goes

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This wouldn’t be the first time that political zealots have allowed the government to cease functioning. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich allowed his members to do exactly that, and he will be the first to admit that it was a colossal mistake. Members of the Republican majority suffered badly after the shutdown, and were rebuked by the voters in the next election for their arrogant conduct.

Some of the more reasonable Republicans are urging restraint and trying to discourage any action to stop the country from functioning. But if the cuckoo birds can’t shut the Capitol down, they have another alternative. They want to stop the government from extending its debt limit. That means that all of the things that the federal government has already done can’t be paid for, such as paying American servicemen and women.

While the political mischief continues in Washington, there’s plenty of plotting and planning at the state level to stop Americans from voting. Six states are in the process of passing laws to do away with early voting and to require people to have official identification to cast votes.

The goal is simple: stop some people from casting their ballots in the name of preventing “voter fraud.” If voter fraud were a real problem, I’d be the first to endorse these actions, but they’re nothing more than voter suppression laws.

There’s no question that the world views America as the model for what a democracy should be. As a nation, we try to promote our vision of a democratic government wherever we can. The battle to be the next mayor of New York City or county executive of Nassau is the kind of contest that best reflects what we stand for.

The attempts to shut down the government or to force us to stop paying federal debts are an example of democracy at its worst.

Jerry Kremer’s new book, “Winning Albany, Untold Stories About the Famous and Not So Famous,” will be available on Oct. 10.

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