For our first issue of 2019, our editorial board had many things in mind to talk about. We contemplated discussing our holiday plans, this semester’s classes, the influx of spring freshmen and transfer students or even all the community service being done across the country in observance of MLK day.
But instead, we feel almost obligated to discuss what every news outlet has been covering for the past month: the government shutdown. As of Dec. 22, 2018, the federal government went into a partial shutdown after Congress failed to reach a deal to meet Trump’s request of 5.7 billion dollars to fund his infamous campaign promise, a border wall. Now going into our fourth week of the shutdown, irrevocable damage has been done, and there is still much at stake. Take for example the 800,000 government employees that are working and living without pay. That includes law enforcement officials, Transportation Security Administration workers, employees of the Forest Service and National Park Service and border patrol agents. We have all felt and seen the hit airport security has taken as many TSA workers have repeatedly called out of work and are even thinking of quitting. Miami International Airport, at one point, had to close down a terminal due to the government shutdown. Some national parks have temporarily closed and are depending on volunteers to help keep them clean. The Food and Drug Administration has halted their routine inspections of seafood, vegetables and other foods, leaving Americans at high risk for contamination. These workers are deemed “essential personnel,” and even they can’t escape the consequences of the president’s choices.
Stories about how the shutdown is affecting federal workers and regular folks have permeated social media to no avail as a quick trip to President Trump’s Twitter account only shows him boasting about himself and justifying the shutdown as a way to “finally fix the humanitarian, criminal and drug crisis at our border.”
Many of our federal workers are being forced to return to a non-paying job, all while being reminded of the legal notion that their paychecks will arrive when the shutdown ends, whenever that is. Not only are they getting f-ed over, but the people that they serve are. It’s a shitshow. This government shutdown doesn’t just affect those that work in the government, but it also hurts everyday Americans like you and me who depend on the government to run smoothly, or at least something close to that.
The longest government shutdown on record is not about effectively securing our border. Democrats and Republicans alike have argued in the past about effective and humane ways to draft up sensible immigration policies, and the solution was never to shutdown the government for weeks because bipartisanship couldn’t be reached. It’s not about building a concrete wall, the same wall that John Kelly, former White House Chief of Staff, said the administration abandoned a long time ago. Our president can’t say that he cares about good immigration and border policies when there are children still dying in U.S. custody. This shutdown- a display of the President’s pride and garish political showmanship- is an act of complete selfishness. Trump refuses to see the error in his ways (and tweets). A majority of Americans are not in favor of the shutdown, and even though there are those who think that we have a border crisis, they don’t think a wall is the solution.
To end the shutdown early would mean that Trump would have had to do something that he has never done before: He would have had to apologize to all the workers he made work without pay. It would have meant that his opponents who are fiercely opposed to most of the things he does would be right. It would have meant that he had to be wrong, that this wall would not “Make America Great Again”. And so, the shutdown has continued well past its duration. If there’s anything this shutdown has shown us, it’s that we need the federal government open again. Yes, we need the IRS, the FDA and all the departments that aren’t necessarily sensationalized. There’s not much we can do now except protest, call and demand that our government representatives take action and hope that Trump gets off his high horse.