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35-day Government Tantrum

photo credit// Peg Hunter/ Flickr

A house divided against itself cannot stand, especially when this house is divided by a wall and a president determined to build it.

For 35 days, President Trump has shutdown the government asking for $5.7 billion in federal funds for a border wall spanning between Mexico and The United States.

Before this one, the longest shutdown was between 1995-96 during President Bill Clinton’s term. The shutdown, between President Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress, extended for 21 days over funding Medicare, the environment, education and public health in the 1996 federal budget.

In this long-winded tantrum that has turned into battlegrounds between President Trump and the Democrat-controlled Congress. Trump has become the man with the magnifying glass and the people who he took an oath to protect, to whom he promised Mexico will pay for the wall, to the 800,000 federal workers who are not getting paid and or are laid off from their jobs, have become the ants.

In fairness, the Democratic Congress have become “no men” in their style of denying any funding for the border wall claiming that it is an ineffective route to adding security. However, let it be known that the border wall and border security are two different topics and that by building a wall it does not ensure our border security.

The factor that has plagued this shutdown for so long is common ground. Both parties want to walk away from this shutdown claiming victory, yet when you are playing with the livelihood of U.S. citizens, after a month of being shutdown, how can you walk away from the lack of negotiation table and claim victory with a straight face.

The shutdown started on December 22, when Congress failed to pass the federal spending budget for 2019, but now the entire country seems to be locked into this duel between the legislative and executive branches of our government.

Samuel Chen, in an interview, went into detail about the federal shutdown and the border wall.

When it comes to picking winners and losers of this shutdown, Chen, a professor of Political Science, believes that our representatives are elected to govern and cannot govern when the government is shutdown, therefore assigning winners and losers is not the best course of action.

It seems, however,  President Trump wanted to walk away from shutdown as the ultimate winner, said Chen, as Trump also tries to secure his own 2020 re-election base. President Trump continuously tries to blame the Democratic Party for this shutdown, trying to rally his base, but “at some point, when the shutdown begins to hurt more and starts to hurt his (Trump’s) base, he is going to sign off on probably what we call clean continued resolution, clean CR,” Chen said.

When talking about Trump’s base, we are referring to the Republicans who align themselves as trump supporters. According to recent polls, however, Trump’s approval ratings hit a low of 40%, while having a 70% of Americans who blame him for this continued shutdown.

As far as considering this shutdown as political suicide, Trump began losing support from within his side of the political party when a minority of Republican Senators, including previous presidential candidate Sen. Mitt Romney, had voted for the failed House funding bill that was voted on Thursday, January 24.

This break in parties is not uncommon because although one party can be seen as a whole, there are multiple parties within that political party. Chen mentioned some of the different parties that lie inside the Republican party including: moderate/centrist Republicans, Tea Party Republicans, Establishment Republicans and Trump Republicans.

When we look at the Democratic party, who also has breaks within its party, they seem to be standing strong in denying the president his border wall funding.

Following the leader of the Democratic Congress, Speaker of the House Sen. Nancy Pelosi, the other Democrats see her strong leadership as an exemplary opponent when facing the Trump White House and the president.

Some Democrats also look at this shutdown as Trump holding the country and government as a hostage token.

“No, I don’t believe this was a hostile takeover or an abuse of power. I certainly believe shutdowns like this are generally a fruitless exercise in governance and one in which no one truly wins, yet I do fear that we will see an increase of government shutdowns, from both parties, when leaders do not get certain policy wishes,” Chen said.

As president, Trump could continue the shutdown for as long as he desired, yet the economy, which relies on a fully operational government, could plummet in recession. Federally funded programs, including student financial aid, could become bargaining chips in the next budget quarter and food programs including food stamps have already felt the effect of this shutdown.

In what seemed to be a “temper tantrum”, as stated by Senate Democratic Leader , Sen.Chuck Schumer, Trump was only interested in completing his campaign promise, to build a border wall, so that he could possibly, and ultimately, strengthen his own 2020 campaign, which was run off the slogan “build that wall”. Although, he forgot to mention that he did not care if Mexico paid for it, seeing how he was willing to partially shutdown the government, but continuously mentioned that Mexico would eventually pay for the wall in the long term.

Whether this would be done by the new trade deal USMCA or through legal immigration and taxation, only time will tell, but with government shutdowns becoming more common, and this one being the longest, there’s a question that should remain on everyone’s mind. If Trump is willing to shutdown the government to fund his wall, what else is he willing to shutdown the government for?

Each president sets the next precedent for the next incumbent who takes office. With the numerous amounts of executive orders Trump has signed, tax cuts for the wealthy he had his Senate and Congress pass, and now this stretched out shutdown; what kind of stage is President Trump setting for the next president, or could this term just be a meer reflection or buildup to his next.

On the Friday, January 25, however, news broke that President Trump will be reopening up the government until Feb.15, despite not receiving any funding for his border wall. In what some are calling a “cave-in”, President Trump has conceded to the Democrats in the longest shutdown in history

This three-week stalemate, however, could lead to other potential shutdown if Trump really wants that wall to be part of the federal spending budget or could result in Trump declaring a national security issue at the Southern border.