In crime dramas and in real life, hostage situations usually end poorly for the hostage takers. Whether they are hauled off in handcuffs or killed in a police shootout, they are the bad guys – plain and simple.
Nonetheless, the Republican Party failed to consider this when they took our government hostage.
To drive home this point, Slate.com’s William Saletan drew a thought-provoking parallel between the GOP’s forced shutdown and the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 under former President Carter.
In 1979, a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and took more than 50 American citizens. Over the next 444 days, they would selectively release certain hostages and gradually reduce their demands.
As Saletan points out in his Oct. 7 article, this pattern of events seems incredibly familiar. After shutting down the entire government, the Republican Party is now trying to pass small pieces of legislation to restore certain functions, like reopening the National Institutes of Health and ensuring pay for troops on active duty.
His main argument is that since the GOP had no right to take the government hostage in the first place, the party can gain almost no favor by narrowing the scope of its forced shutdown. The GOP’s attempt to revive portions of the government has taken the spotlight off the Democratic Party and the Affordable Care Act – the original targets of the shutdown – and onto the GOP itself.
As Jon Favreau wrote in the Daily Beast, there are sizable segments of the Republican coalition that believe no government is better than even a small government. They believe exposing Washington “as a dysfunctional circus of petty children” will vindicate their philosophy.
However, in this shutdown, the only dysfunctional circus is the Republican Party. Media polling has shown that a majority of Americans blame the GOP. Now all the Democrats needs to do is sit pretty because the GOP is bound to trip over its shoelaces sooner or later.
Alysha Khan is a senior majoring in journalism and political science.