Even though the recent debacle that was the government shutdown has now ended, the pervasiveness of its effects seem to have left many Americans still smarting. Simply put, even though a compromise has now been put into effect, there is worry about the precedent the shutdown could set for the political system.
Though Americans are stereotypically uninterested in or ignorant about the goings on of their government, the shutdown of the government apparently generated a heightened scrutiny of all things political. However, there still does not seem to be a consensus regarding what factors, exactly, led to or directly caused the shutdown.
Senior liberal arts major Darlene Griffin mostly credits the event to the tense nature of the political system in general, saying “from my understanding, the Republicans and the Democrats were fighting over enacting the healthcare plan, and neither would compromise.”
With this in mind, many agree that the shutdown occurred because of a combination of reasons. As senior international studies major Moriah King said, “I think it’s about budgeting.” She then continued by commenting, “Obamacare is part of it, but I wouldn’t say that that’s all of it. We had problems before Obamacare.”
Moreover, junior middle grades education major Katherine Bateman points to a broader, character-related issue as the primary impetus behind the government closing.
“Instead of staying there until they (Congress) solved the problem, I feel like they just gave up,” said Bateman.
Additionally, there seems to continue to be a general atmosphere of weariness and disillusion among Americans as to what message the government’s closing has sent. Griffin views the whole affair as a logical outcome of a strict partisanship she believes has come to dictate the actions of Washington.
“The parties have become so different from each other,” said Griffin. “If one suggests anything then the other is automatically against it.”
In much the same spirit, King admits that the current and seemingly intense focus on the political parties and their respective policy goals is indicative of a growing schism between the American government and the American people. She pointedly mentions that, “this country was founded for the people, not for Republican or Democrats. Whenever you forget the people, that causes problems.” The shutdown is, furthermore, just one of the bigger problems caused by this misguidedness.
Others, including Bateman, largely agree that the shutdown signals a shift from national identity and heritage.
According to Bateman, one of the most important things for elected officials to do is “to remember the values we were founded upon,” a standard to which she believes is not being upheld.
However, she also places some of the blame on the American public as well, saying “our government is just a reflection of our culture, which is ‘me, me, me,’ and we don’t consider each other’s needs. We focus on what we can get out of people…The government forgets they were put there to serve, not just to have power.”
Similarly, King ascribes some popular responsibility for the recent crisis, saying, “because people aren’t active [in the government], that’s why Congress has forgotten [the people].”
With these sentiments in mind, many see the future of the effectiveness of the American political system as cloudy. Bateman said she believes the shutdown made people start thinking a bit deeper about the American political system.
“I feel like there is so much animosity that there won’t be any change,” said Bateman, “but the shutdown situation might make people rethink their decisions about the government.”
Griffin attempts to take a slightly more optimistic view, however, suggesting that the shutdown might be a signal that “maybe everyday Americans could help the situation by just having discussions about what they believe and why they believe it.” However, she concedes that the closure as a whole “will probably leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths.”
Bateman offers a spiritual potential remedy regarding the nebulous direction of the newly restarted government, saying, “I think we really need to pray for our officials. It tells us in 1 Timothy 2 that we are called to pray for kings and those in high authority, and even though we may say that we do, we tend to not pray for them except on Memorial Day or Veterans Day…Aside from letting our representatives know how we feel, we can take our problems to the feet of the King.”