Estes Park, Colo., doesn't deserve this.
Two weeks after the flood waters decimated the beloved tourist town, the federal government shutdown has shuttered adjacent Rocky Mountain National Park right during prime aspen viewing and the elk-mating season.
Now, congressional Republicans probably don't care about a little town of 6,000 in the Rocky Mountains any more than they care about the 800,000 federal employees who have been furloughed without pay.
Heck, Republicans obviously don't care about the 30 million Americans who now can qualify for affordable health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the actual target of their infantile pique over the federal budget.
And now you can't visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Why? Oh yeah: because of Obamacare.
Among the casualties: The park's Trail Ridge Road is closed, leaving Estes Park accessible only by a single, winding road and financially kicked in the teeth as its businesses try to recover from the flood in what is traditionally the lucrative last burst of tourist season.
Colorado's Republican delegation is complicit in this, voting in lockstep with the Tea Partyers who would hold the country hostage in their fit of pique over Obamacare, for fear of facing a primary challenge from the right.
Congressman Doug Lamborn, the Colorado Springs Republican, has voted every time to undermine the health care law as a condition of passing the federal budget. He has stated that he wants to repeal Obamacare "because it increases costs, explodes the deficit, raises taxes, hurts job creators, and — most importantly — gives the government control over personal health care decisions," dropping every buzzword and talking-point myth perpetrated by the right.
We shouldn't be surprised: In their foaming-at-the-mouth hatred of all things Obama, Republicans have circulated innumerable lies about the Affordable Care Act, ranging from Sarah Palin's fictitious "death panels" to the hyperbolic notion that this tepid form of "socialized medicine" will kill the economy.
(Look to countries that have true socialized medicine — Canada, England and Japan among them — and none of them are crushed economically by the weight of ensuring that all of their citizens have access to high-quality health care.)
The Republicans probably should fear a challenge from the left now, too, as voters are increasingly frustrated and angry and making their views known in public confrontations with their elected officials.
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, who is hardly a major player in the budget/Obamacare impasse, cancelled a trip back to Colorado this week to meet constituents to stay in hiding, stating: "I believe I will best serve the people of the 6th District by staying in Washington until this shutdown has been ended."
Congressman Scott Tipton of Cortez, like other Republicans scrambling for justification of their hostage-taking of the federal budget, stated that "it's unfortunate that the Senate and president would rather force a government shutdown than listen to Americans, or even have a conversation on possible alternatives to Obamacare to create a truly affordable and accessible health care system."
Of course, there is a proper way to address laws that you don't like: You gather the votes in Congress to repeal them. But Tea Party Republicans have tried unsuccessfully to overturn Obamacare through legislation now more than 40 times, their Sisyphean efforts reflective of their obsession with depriving Obama of any political success.
Ironically, congressional Republicans accuse the president and the Democrats of refusing to negotiate and compromise on the matter.
Theirs is a scorched-earth strategy — they'd rather destroy the country than let Obama and the Democrats claim a legislative success — and its impacts are real. Just ask the people in Estes Park.
Steve Lipsher (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes a monthly column for The Denver Post.