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Government Shutdown

Posted on 11.06.2013

Although the government is open again after 16 days of shutdown, the issues that caused the shutdown are far from resolved. These are the same issues behind threats of government shutdown dating from 2011.

 CNN quoted Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain as saying, “We’ve seen the movie before,” referring to the government shutdown battle. McCain is correct; we all have seen a similar movie every few months since 2011. That is the year that swept in divided government and combative tactics to stop any progress for the democratic agenda.

When I say the democratic agenda, I really mean the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as it has become popularly known. Even though the bill has become law, and next year everyone will be required to have health care, Republicans, and especially the Tea Party wing, cannot seem to move forward. The bill is law, and the fight should be in the past. There are bigger issues to deal with for the future. If they really do want to accomplish, things of significance, tying health care to every issue and holding this childish grudge is not the optimal way to conduct the people’s business.

In 2010, a huge campaign issue for Congress was “repeal and replace Obamacare,” and the men and women who rode in on that wave of health care dissatisfaction can’t seem to leave those far-fetched promises in the past.  Maybe they think they are serving their constituents, but they are disserving the American public as whole. We cannot move forward and progress as a nation if Congress is always trying to undo settled law.

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  By this definition, the architects of these past shutdown threats must be insane. They continue to hold our collective futures hostage with every shutdown threat. They continue this vicious cycle each time by making a last-second deal to put a Band-Aid  on the problem and deal with it in a few months.

If something doesn’t change in Washington, there will never be a great compromise on the important issues we need to deal with as a nation. Despite the way that Republicans go about it, they have a point in saying we need to get debt under control and we need to reevaluate some social programs, as well as eliminate government waste. And believe it or not, Democrats want to get those things done too. All of Congress has roughly the same agenda and each party wants to get the people’s business done, they just don’t have the ability to compromise like adults.

In this era of immaturity in Washington, the babies in Congress need to be quickly potty trained, if they plan to make this looming chance of a government shutdown following the New Year the one to end all shutdowns. Divided government is ideal in a perfect world, but in a political climate like this, divided government means a shutdown threat every few months and little to nothing else accomplished save for bickering and annoying the American public.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, congresses approval rating has hit an all-time low. The poll has congressional approval at 12 percent, the lowest rating for Congress in the poll’s 40 years of data for the question. In that same poll, only 25 percent said they are likely to reelect their representative, and 60 percent said that they would have to see the other options come next election. According to, the data show the highest level of anti-incumbency since 1989.

These numbers indicate that Congress has managed to alienate not only the American people, but also their own constituents.  Let’s not let the irony of this situation go unnoticed; many of these same members of Congress rode in on another wave of anti-incumbency that brought non-politicians to congress in droves. However, with just one term and nearly half of another under their belts many could be going back to their day jobs soon.

If the American people stick to their poll answers and follow through on putting Congress under new management, this could be a great thing. The only way to get our big problems finally fixed is to elect bold members of both parties who are not afraid to compromise and don’t feel the need to put on a show for their base. Most of all, the way to get Congress and our nation’s big problems under control is to elect people who see compromise and working across the aisle as a virtue, not a terrible vice that should be punished through a primary challenge from the extremes of the party. Until Congress is populated with people who have reasonable goals, a mind for the future and compromise on their lips, we could be stuck on this government shutdown rollercoaster for a while. Buckle up, America.  It could be a bumpy ride off a fiscal cliff.



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