Politics of a Shutdown

By Khea Pollard

The core of our country has been out of business for 11 days and counting. Perhaps it was wishful thinking to believe that the government would reopen within a few days following the shutdown. Because the opposing parties cannot agree to find acceptable middle ground, thousands of government workers are out of a paycheck. Is it that they don’t understand or don’t care?

Of course members of Congress are still being paid. Had their paychecks been on the line, I’m quite sure they’d reach a decision in a timelier manner. Some House and Senate members are donating or rejecting payment altogether to show solidarity. This is admirable considering they have the option to do so, while many others do not.

The shutdown has spawned an ominous ripple effect for employees in industries we expected and in some we didn’t expect. Barricades have been placed around the World War II memorial, the Grand Canyon is closed and worst of all, the Alaskan crab fishing industry is forced into limbo just in time for the holiday season. Joking aside, this is more than just an inconvenience for tourists and seafood lovers. People working in these industries are facing the consequences for a decision they have no say in.

Apparently, neither side will budge on President Obama’s health care reform, in addition to many other issues and each faction blames the other. There is something inherently wrong with this picture.

I am a firm believer in standing up for your values and adhering to commitments for yourself and others. That said, it’s important to draw the line between stubborn self-righteousness and fighting ardently for your beliefs. There needs to be compromise on both sides for amicable coexistence.

The next proposal from Republicans is to raise the debt ceiling to finance this shutdown while a deal is negotiated. Democrats are in favor of raising the debt ceiling and reopening the government before a new deal is talked about. Either way, the debt ceiling is going up. At least we can agree on that. An estimated 50 billion dollars a month is necessary to sustain the government during its shutdown period.

That’s 50 billion spent for indecision. Whether it is appropriate to add more debt to what we’ve already accumulated is questionable. But at this point, a raise in the debt ceiling is necessary to keep America from going into financial default and embarrassing ourselves nationally in the process.

Both Democrats and Republicans must be willing to give a little to gain a lot. The goal is should be to have both sides content, not satiated, by the end of decision making.

The same type of compromise applies to everyday life in our interpersonal and professional relationships. Listening to clips on the news that show Republicans and Democrats aggressively debating back and forth reminds me of childhood.

My mother’s scolding voice insisting my sister and I stop bickering and get along with each other. Congress could learn a thing or two from the average American. There is one thing the House and Senate agree on, they will keep paying troops for military service. Our “non essential” government workers are being furloughed while military troops are not. I’ve come to understand where this country’s priorities lie.

I don’t want to talk about the shutdown anymore. It’s an important topic, without a doubt. But there are much more interesting, wonderful things going on in the world I’d rather read and write about.

Still at times it feels like life on earth is coming to a slow end when I listen to all the madness on the television screen. I could say that we keep our sanity intact through hope and prayer, which may be a true and very viable option. But for those of us that can’t afford indecision, we do it because we must.