The government shutdown, that went into effect at midnight on January 20, could have been avoided. And should have been. But a shameful climate of bad will, created by men and women who were elected to represent the people of America, but instead chose to throw them over the cliff for their own political benefit, ruled the day. The fact that the shutdown lasted only three days does little to ameliorate the damage done to morale and trust among those members of our society who would have been most affected – our military, whose pay was withheld, and the children whose healthcare coverage was put at risk. Not surprisingly, our Senators, who made it all happen, were not affected by the shutdown and would continue to receive their pay as usual, however long the shutdown lasted.
The only purpose of the shutdown was to stonewall the passage of the Continuing Resolution (CR) and make the Republicans, and above all the President, take the heat in the upcoming mid-term elections. Democrat senators walked in lock-step behind Schumer, following him over the cliff like mindless and dutiful little lemmings. He rules with an iron fist, and those who challenged or defied him would have hell to pay. So the Democrats turned their backs on their constituents and followed their leader.
The failure of the Senate to pass a stopgap bill that would have kept the government from shutting down was a perfect example of how Washington has failed us. The events leading up to what is being called the the “Schumer Shutdown” created an impasse that made a resolution of the issue all but impossible.
In the end, the shutdown was short, and the matter was temporarily resolved. The Republicans halted the stand-off by ending Schumer’s filibuster, allowing a quick majority vote to reopen the government. So the situation is resolved, at least for three weeks, when the cycle could possibly repeat itself.
When our representatives in Congress and the Senate stay in Washington too long, they all too frequently lose sight of why they went there in the first place. It wasn’t supposed to be to secure a cushy job that would enrich them and give them the possibility of life-long tenure and personal power, but rather to represent the people who elected them in the hopes of having meaningful representation in Washington.
Alas, we are idealists and dreamers. They, on the other hand, become, more often than not, denizens of ‘the swamp’ that is Washington, adopting self-serving avarice and a unquenchable thirst for power, while fighting off anyone who might take that away from them. It’s worked before.
But the Democrats may have overplayed their hand this time. Even the New York Times reported that “Senate Democrats, showing remarkable solidarity in the face of a clear political danger, blocked consideration of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating.” Whatever editorial spin they put on it in the rest of their coverage, they got that part right. It was the Democrats who blocked passage of a bill that would have kept the lights on in Washington and would have spared millions of Americans, including our military and our children, from the anxiety of not knowing where their next paycheck or medical coverage would come from – or when.
There has to be a better way. And of course there is. But it requires good will and a readiness to compromise. The Washington elite have weaponized the democratic process upon which this nation was founded, turning it into a self-serving, self-perpetuating farce.
To Senator Chuck Schumer, who single-handedly blocked the CR: your time is up. You were outplayed and, because of your arrogance and addiction to power, instead of the Republicans taking the blame for the shutdown, the blame rests right on your doorstep.
So get off your soapbox and do your job. America needs for you to get back to work – for them, not for you.
President Trump was right. It’s time to drain the swamp. And now that the lights are back on, there is no place better to start than with the U.S. Congress.