A Shutdown Is Looming: Speaks to Government Deep Dysfunction

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We are hours from a government shutdown. Let me dispense with the Democrats vs Republicans blame game. I am going to take a deeper view into dysfunction. The Congress of the United States has been dysfunctional for decades. It is getting worse. The shutdown will show how little both parties can you work with each other.

This is partly about November. Democratic expect to make gains in both the House and Senate. Best case scenario, they expect to flip one, if not both houses. A Democratic wave is forming. Republicans have shown a lack of ability to govern. However, Democrats are not doing much better. Both parties are playing games with politics. For Democrats this is also about did The deferred action for late arrivals (DACA). For them this is critical.

This means that these young man and women have become hostages for both political parties. There is more to this than that. There is a group of Republicans who are inherently afraid of immigration. Meaning, brown and black immigration from developing world countries. There is a good reason for that fear if you are white. There is a trend is making the country browner. While race is a human construct, and there is no scientific basis for racism. The anxiety is there. American society favors whites structurally. In fact, it favors white and Christian even if the Constitution has protections against both. The First Amendment has the establishment clause. There is also no religious test whole political office. The 13th and 14th Amendments guarantee rights to all Americans, regardless of melanin content.

This goes well beyond DACA. Or for that matter the military, Health and Human Services or any other government service. It speaks to deep distrust and a concept of what the government is supposed to do. These are not minor disagreements among well meaning people. Democrats believe in the more activist government, even if by a degree or so. Republicans believe that the government has only one function: National defense. This is somewhat of simplification, but ones that is not far from the truth. The blame game if you will, is concentrating on immigration for one party on defense for the other.

It is ridiculous to claim the Democrats hate the military. Just as it is ridiculous do claim that all Republicans hate immigrants. Do some Democrats or some Republicans fit the stereotypes? Well, yes indeed. What this imminent shutdown tells us is that the government does not work. This is the the shoulders of leadership. Chiefly the Republican leadership who promised that they would manage the affairs of state in a professional manner. They hold all branches of government. They control both the House and Senate. They are unable to build coalitions with more moderate Democrats who might agree with them on some points.

This does not absolve Democrats. Their leadership has some responsibility as well. Not as great because they do not control the chambers. It is the majority that controls what comes to the floor. Over the last decade both parties have tried to stop the other when they have the majority. The minority also refuse to cooperate with the majority. The only people who are hurt when this happens is the American people. This is why Congress is so un-popular. They are very well-paid, yet they failed to do the most basic of jobs passing the budget.

This is a continuing resolution because Congress has not passed a budget in five months. This is the most basic job of the House. So they have been going from crisis to crisis and from CR to CR. This is a government that does not work. It is paralyzed by political dysfunction. We have been here in American history. The last time the Congress was this dysfunctional was before the Civil War.

President Donald Trump has not helped matters. His Twitter habit deepened the crisis. We must ask if the president craves disfunction. This means ratings and the president loves ratings. We also never know what he wants from hour to hour. This is not the way an advanced democracy should work. Perhaps, we are not as advanced as we believe.

So who will be hurt with the shutdown? There are many government employees who will be hurt because they will not get paid. Veterans will not get paid either. Children who need payments for health insurance will not get care. Most of these are middle and lower income people who do not have the extra money to weather a shutdown.

Employees at Health and Human Services might have a problem managing the current flu season which is severe. The economic cost of a shutdown is to the tune of $600 million dollars a week.

The long view is that these recurrent crisis point to deep dysfunction. Electing Democrats in November is not going to change this. This may deepen, short term, the distrust, and yes, even hate that exists at the Hill.

The president also tweeted months ago that perhaps we needed a good shut down. It looks like he will get his shutdown. It will not be a good one. So far, the public is blaming the Republicans far more than Democrats. This is according to ABC News:

Forty-eight percent in the national survey say they’d blame Trump and the GOP, vs. 28 percent who’d blame the Democrats in Congress. An additional 18 percent would blame both equally.

So if Republicans expected a political gain, they may be in for a nasty surprise. After all, they control the House, the Senate and the White House. This is the first time in American history when the controlling party is facing a shut down. This is in the first year of the Trump Administration. The anniversary is tomorrow.

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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