Columnist: Political Parties the Cause of Government Shutdown

By Cullen Knowles

capitolFor hundreds of years, political parties have held tremendous influence over our nation’s government. Unfortunately for our country, their impact has provoked rampant and destructive division over issues that require the temperance, comprehension, and cooperation of both sides. As a result of this division, our government often fails to conjure a resolution that is acceptable to the people that it is supposed to represent. This bitter political conflict is a chronic illness that seems to have no cure, and the detrimental effects of partisan discontent are the true perpetrators of our recent government shutdown. Overall, the blatant refusal of the Democrats and the Republicans to compromise has once again resulted with tremendous damage to our nation.

According to John Boehner, the Republicans had “fought the good fight” by instigating and extending the government shutdown. The absurdity of this statement cannot be exaggerated. Overall, both political parties displayed a reckless determination to pursue their own agendas at the expense of the American people. In other words, our country’s most prominent politicians would rather wreak havoc upon our nation’s economy than find an adequate solution to our fiscal problems. The Republicans may have started the crisis, but the Democrats extended the shutdown by refusing to negotiate with the opposite side until the last minute. As a result of this, both parties have witnessed a tremendous drop in approval ratings, with the Republicans obtaining a 28% approval rating and the Democrats retaining a 43% approval rating (Steinhauser). As a whole, it is obvious that the American people find the actions of Congress to be utterly atrocious.

One does not need to look very far back into the past in order to understand the superficial cause of the recent government shutdown. While the Republicans adamantly refuse to accept Obamacare, the Democrats have refused to make any concessions on the Affordable Care Act. This disagreement prevented the passage of mandatory annual government spending bills, which ultimately led to our current crisis (Caldwell). However, the long-term cause of today’s partisan discontent is far more complex. According to Ross Douthat, the liberal policies implemented during the New Deal and Great Society eras have stifled a truly conservative movement in the United States, despite periods in which Republicans seemed to dominate our government. For example,

The Reagan era really was kind of a conservative answer to the New Deal era: a period when the right’s ideas were ascendant, its constituencies empowered, its favored policies pursued. But to many on the right…it was something much more limited and fragmented and incomplete. (Douthat)

So why do many Republicans feel this way? Even though many conservative policies have been successfully implemented in the past, they have never totally abolished or even weakened the policies of the New Deal and the Great Society periods. As a result of this, many right-wing activists have become sorely disappointed with moderate attempts to curb liberalism, which has caused them to resort to more extreme measures (Douthat).

Whether this behavior is total folly or admirable determination, the intentions of the Republicans are almost irrelevant in our current political situation. Compromise should be the predominant focus of our government, but it seems to be nonexistent in D.C. The bottom line is this: if liberals and conservatives cannot cooperate, then compromise will continue to be impossible and our nation will face financial ruin. Despite the absurdity and the obscurity of the recent government shutdown, one aspect is perfectly clear: with our nation’s credibility, reputation, and economy at stake, another shutdown must be avoided at all costs.

Works Cited

  • Caldwell, Leigh A. “Government Shutdown: Again? Seriously?” CNN. Cable News Network, 19 Sept. 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.
  • Cogswell, Ron. “East Portico — U.S. Capitol Washington (DC) January 2013.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 18 Jan. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
  • Douthat, Ross. “Why the Right Fights.” New York Times (blog). New York Times, 2 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.
  • Steinhauser, Paul. “Shutdown Poll: No Winners but GOP Bigger Loser than Dems.” CNN Political Ticker RSS. Cable News Network, 14 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.