Anika Schneider ’15
For the past two weeks the country has been plagued. Not by what many Republicans fear, that is, too much government, but rather the partial shutdown of the Federal Government. Many controversy and blame lie on both sides of the aisle when dealing with the US Government, but in this case it seems to be the general consensus that it was the Republican Party’s fault and more specifically the Tea Party and more radical factions the party. For example, in the article for MSNBC by Ari Melbar, “Why the Republicans Lost”, he blames the Republican leadership because a majority of the Congress opposed a shutdown. He also faults House Speaker John Boehner for never holding a vote one a clean bill before the deadline for funding the government expired. Melbar claims that if Boehner had held the vote that 200 House Democrats would have voted for it in addition to 17 House Republicans, which would have held the majority and avoided a shutdown. Melbar therefore believes that Boehner took a completely avoidable shutdown and made it unavoidable. The article goes on to state that a “clean funding” bill’s overall spending would have been much closer to what Republicans wanted than what the Democrats had proposed, spurring on the Tea Party’s demands. However, this seems to have been a serious strategic misstep for the Tea Party. In the past President Obama had been more willing to compromised, but this did not mean he would or could compromise in regards to the Affordable Care Act. This piece of domestic policy commonly holds Obama’s name when referred to as “Obamacare”. There was no way the President could sign a bill reversing this policy, nor would the Democratic Senate pass such a bill.
John B. Judis, writing for “The New Republic”, calls the shutdown “one of the worst crises in American history.” Judis views the shutdown as a void in the philosophical social contract between the government and its people. Believing that these extreme rightest, those responsible for the shutdown, are a reactionary movement rather than a true conservative movement, Judis said this was displayed in their choice to dismantle the federal government – this may be true. In the time that the government was shutdown many people failed to notice that Obamacare’s exchanges technically flopped. This would have immensely helped rightist’s’ claims were everyone not so distracted by the shutdown. Ironically, where this failure should be causing the public to lose confidence in the law, at least according to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, since the government shutdown there has been a seven-point increase in the popularity of the law! This combined irony seems to support Judis’s claim that this was a reactionary government shutdown rather than a logical political strategy to move conservative politics forward.
From an opposing perspective Erick Erickson, who wrote “Obamacare or the Debt Ceiling” for RedState, argues that the GOP is winning the shutdown. He trusts that when people turn on the news they will come to blame the Democrats for the shutdown. Erickson believes that people will view Obamacare as the reason why veterans can’t tour their own memorials and why cancer treatment is not taking place at NIH. Indeed, he considers it to be clear that the GOP is holding up well while putting Democrats in an awkward position.
I believe that not only are the Democrats in an awkward position, but that everyone is in an “awkward” position. It seems to me that when the rest of the world watches the leader of the free world shutdown its own government every American is left in an awkward position. This might be especially true for those furloughed workers who just discovered that they’re nonessential. Certainly this is true for the 9 million mothers and infants who were put at risk when funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children was stopped. Whether your opinion is that the shutdown was Obamcare’s fault, the Tea Party’s or a strategic effort, the shutdown was indeed awkward, having had real effects on real people who depend on our Federal Government.