The Capital: Closed for Business
The political world is a confusing one indeed. Even those who stay up to date with the news can get caught up in the many intricacies and moving parts of the political world. A current instance of this would be the government shutdown. If you were unaware, the federal government is undergoing the longest shutdown in the history of the U.S. At the release of this article, the shutdown has lasted 28 days. The next closest in terms of length are 21, during the Clinton presidency, and 16, during the Obama presidency. However, the term “shutdown” is misleading. Government shutdowns only refer to partial shutdowns, as a complete shutdown would have far reaching implications (see the Purge).
The only way our government can be shut down is if a budget is not agreed upon by Congress and the President. In our case, Congress submitted a budget proposal to President Trump, but he refuses to sign it as it does not allocate 5 billion dollars for the construction of a border wall on the southern border. So, the entire shutdown boils down to the issue of a wall.
During his campaign for his presidency, Trump promised to build a wall to help end illegal immigration. Many of those on the right believed this to be absolutely necessary for the safety of America’s citizens. By building (or more correctly upgrading) a wall, they will force those who wish to traffic drugs or people across the border towards the ports of entry where they will be easier to deter. They believe it is unfair to make those who are natural-born citizens as well as those who endured the arduous legal immigration process to have their tax-dollars spent on illegal immigrants. And they are illegal immigrants, not undocumented immigrants. The people themselves may not be illegal, but by not entering a country through the proper legal means yet still reaping the benefits of a citizen, they are committing a crime. It is a legal term and not one that should be changed to sound nicer. What’s more, every crime that is committed by illegal immigrants is entirely preventable. This doesn’t mean that all illegal immigrants are bad people (though they are committing crimes), but if they went through the proper immigration process, the truly malicious would have a much lesser chance of doing something malicious.
This is not a crusade against immigration, just illegal immigration. One is a crime and the other is not.
On the other side, many Democrats have begun to claim that a wall is inhumane and unnecessary. They seem to argue for an open-border, though they may not always explicitly say so. Nevertheless, borders define countries. As Trump has said on the subject: “walls are meant to help the people inside”…
Because it is what political parties do, the democrats are blaming Trump for forcing this shutdown and Trump is blaming the democrats. And unsurprisingly both are right. If one side were to just give in the shutdown would be over in a heartbeat and we could move on with our lives. In this sense, the blame game is just plain ridiculous. However, the democrats are taking a stand on the wall being an actual bad thing and unnecessary, so they refuse to “waste” taxpayer money on it (I find it particularly funny that this is the first time in the history of ever that they have been withholding of tax dollars). Trump, on the other hand, has a promise to keep. He promised the American people that he would secure the southern border and curb illegal immigration. There are actual lives at stake in this fight and it is extremely unlikely that Trump simply gives in.
Now onto the actual shutdown.
Because neither party is willing to back down, hundreds of thousands of employees are being furloughed. When a government employee is furloughed, they cannot receive any pay (and in many cases are not even allowed to work). All non-essential government workers are furloughed if the budget that included funding for their agency is not passed through Congress and signed by the President.
This is an important distinction. All essential employees and agencies continue working as usual, such as the postal service (which is actually not funded by congress so isn’t necessarily effected by the shutdown). Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are still in use, as well as much of the government that deals with the protection of life and property—only the employees that are not absolutely necessary are furloughed in those instances.
While it may not be a popular view, I don’t think the shutdown is entirely bad. As I am a proponent of minimal government intervention and because I believe it is too powerful as it is, I think a shutdown is exactly the kind of thing we need. At the same time, I empathize for those who were furloughed, as my family endured the same thing in 2013. When the government was shut down, my Dad, who worked for the department of defense, was labeled as non-essential and was furloughed for 16 days. It was difficult for our family, but we got through it and even managed to get a few home-improvement projects finished. However, if this shutdown ignites a push for more privatization (as some private companies have already begun to partake in the government’s duties in their absence like National Park maintenance) and helps secure the U.S., Mexico border, then it will have not been in vain.
And while this is the longest shutdown in American history, it isn’t even close to what other countries have “accomplished.” Between 2010 and 2011, Belgium was without an elected government, (ie. The underwent a government shutdown) for 589 days! If we truly want America to be the best in the world, we have some catching up to do.