Bryan Felix ’15
In the waning hours of the US 2013 Fiscal Year on September 20th Capitol Hill failed to reach an agreement on 2014 budget appropriations. Without a spending plan in place, the US government had to effectively “shut down” until an agreement was reached on spending. With this the government went on their first shutdown since the 1996-1996 shutdown which lasted for 21 days. This immediately sent a shock through the government infrastructure, causing 800,000 workers to be furloughed without pay with many others being asked to work without pay. Also all national parks, museums and pretty much anything “non-essential” was shut down. Now this struggle was not per say over the actual budget as it was a game of chicken between our bipartisan government.
The real issue of the bill was Obamacare, state health care, which the Republicans staunchly oppose and wish to limit and the Democrats who avidly accept and wish growth for it. The Republican controlled House of Representatives made every attempt to oppose Obamacare with every proposition to the Senate, but they lost every attempt to pass any measures even in the last hours because of Obama’s undying support for it. With the House and Senate in conflict, it was made only worse with President Obama’s undying and repetitive support for Obamacare and the contempt of the Republican Party. While this argument can devolve into a classic GOP vs Democrat fight, as unfortunately marketed and spurred on by the media, I see this rather as a failure of Democracy and the bipartisan system.
Even with an average 10% approval rating for Congress we continue to vote for the same Representatives every year and constantly vote based on party affiliations. “WE THE PEOPLE” caused this shutdown by allowing our politicians free-reign and giving them the liberty to put party values over national interests, as seen with Obamacare even when bigger problems were afoot. This party system we currently hold as our Democracy has nothing but divided the nation over fine-lined issues and has served the purpose of causing repeated strife in our lives. Is Obamacare good? Yes of course, healthcare should be available for all but should it take precedence over all the other more important political and financial problems? No. However logical compromises are looked down upon by those who benefit from the division.
While this shutdown does nothing to harm the government other than to spite each other, the ultimatum arrives October 17th when, if no bill is passed, the US is pushed over its debt ceiling and defaults. The default is the atomic bomb to the paintball gun that is the shutdown. The permanent impacts of the default would be awful for the US and, as some would say, “political suicide” So will Obama and the Republicans really going to let this happen? Most likely not as this would turn over the nation, ensuring that even the dimmest Americans wouldn’t reelect their friends. Yet the point stands no matter what happens: the people have failed the US by letting it deteriorate to this point. We have returned to our stubbornness and division that failed the nation in its past. It will be tested now in the coming years, or even days, whether a house divided can remain to stand.
Article Sources and Further Reading into the Shutdown in relation to Political Division and shutdown severity
For more information on Obamacare:
Government default info