Image Courtesy of sodahead.com
The government of the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, has shut down. Of course, certain essential functions carried out by essential employees will still be available. Still, all over the US today, agency doors closed, lights were turned off, and 800,000 workers prepared for an indefinite furlough.
They’re home now, wondering what the heck happened, and why.
In a government designed for gridlock, disagreement is par for the course. Our representatives aren’t supposed to agree on all policies or ideologies. Yet, every one should agree that country comes before party.
When party comes before country, when the interests of an ideology come before the interests of a society, governments shut down. Disagreements over the funding of a single program cannot acceptably halt agreements for the funding of all programs.
The government of the United States is not a bargaining chip to be held ransom or bartered for. Representatives must stop using this entitled, elitist view, and start seeing the government for what it truly is: a sacred social contract, an agreement sealed with the blood of patriots. Americans handed power over to the government to protect our interests and provide services to improve our standard of living.
Today, the government failed. This shutdown is not in the interests of our nation, our economy, and especially the 800,000 government employees it affects, as well as the people they service everyday.
People are disappointed. They believe the government failed them. It did. Representatives are not in Congress to win every battle or debate they engage in. They are there to protect the interests of their constituency, and the interests of their nation. They must do this through logical, critical debate. I know that most members of Congress wished to avoid this shutdown. Still, a small minority decided to play a political card game with the lives of everyday Americans. Today, we all lost.
People have cited the fact that the government has shut down seventeen times since 1976 as some kind of evidence that this is normal, acceptable government action. This is a dangerous idea. A government shutdown is not a policy tool, like a filibuster, to be deployed in order to hamstring the other side into agreement. It is an embarrassment, internationally and domestically, that makes us look weak, indecisive, and foolish. If our leaders are willing to bargain away the functionality of our entire government for a little political capital, how can we expect them to be responsible when it really matters?