The United States government has been partially shut down for more than 25 days now, making it the longest shutdown in history. This stemmed from President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign a budget bill unless Congress allocates $5.6 billion for a border wall.
In what shouldn’t be a surprise, the President has gone from making the Mexican government writing a check to pay for the wall to essentially holding the American government hostage over an impractical endeavor.
Tens of thousands of government employees have either been furloughed or are working without pay as a direct result.
Many employees of the Transportation Security Agency have not been to work, leading to longer lines and wait times at airports across the country.
It isn’t just government employees who are bearing the cost of this. College students who filed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after the shutdown began cannot have their information processed until the government resumes all normal functions.
American companies have been harmed by this, as well. Delta airlines CEO Ed Bastian announced that the airline is expecting a $25 million loss in revenue as a result of the shutdown.
The fact that Trump would be willing to go to these lengths to champion his rhetoric was expected, but what is terrifying for the country is that every other leader in the Republican party is willing to ignore reality to appease the president.
The Democrats and Republicans have differing views on immigration policies, but endorsing unnecessary government spending over an impractical idea goes against everything the conservative establishment is meant to represent.
Trump has also threatened declaring a national emergency and using emergency funds to build the wall. The very idea that he would have to consider that shows this is not a project the American people want the government to undertake.
Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and political science at Princeton University, suggested the government issuing “wall bonds” as a way to pay for the wall. This would allow people who actually believe in it to invest in the project rather than requiring all citizens who don’t necessarily want it to fund it.
While the government should be aware of the image the United States will project if it does end up building a wall, a privately funded option is more reasonable than expecting a government that is already $21 trillion in debt to pay for it.
Yet Republican leaders seem to think their only chance of survival is appealing to what Trump’s base wants and consider it a necessity to keep control of the government.
Yet they do not seem to grasp the long-term consequences of this polarization for the nation.
Policy prescription based on whims doesn’t help citizens of the country. In fact, history has shown time and again that this can only bring fear and violence among citizens. The notion that a wall is a solution to immigration problems in the United States would never be entertained in the mainstream just two years ago, but today the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands are at stake because of this.
In an ironic turn of events, more than 40,000 immigration court cases have been rescheduled as a result of the shutdown.
Republicans need to realize that entertaining ideas like the border wall actually hampers the welfare of the American public imposing a heavy cost on working American families.
The Republicans aren’t the only ones to blame as Democrats have constantly played on the issue of the wall and given it more publicity than it requires.
This seems to be driven by their desire to gain media presence during what has become a Trump news cycle.
Unfortunately, doing so only makes such ideas seem normal, making it harder for people to distinguish between sane and ludicrous.
Unless the government gets over its delusion of seeking popularity, stupidity will become the benchmark for government decisions.
The President will not compromise on this issue, but Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House need to find a solution that not only ends this shutdown, but also ensures such a situation never comes up again.