Sometimes, fault doesn’t matter. Sometimes, a problem just needs to be fixed. But other times, we need to know what went wrong and where the blame lies so we can stop it from happening again.
The current case is of the final instance.
Fortunately, in the Federal Government Shutdown of 2019, the longest federal government shutdown in history, the culprit was proud to take the blame.
President Trump’s shutdown persists because of one contested issue: a border wall between Mexico and the United States — an idea with 58% disapproval, according to Pew Research Center.
But for the purposes of the case I’m making here, you should know that if the government shutdown lasts until January 25th, which appears likely considering the slow negotiations, America will have wasted as much money paying for the shutdown as it would have spent funding the border wall to the extent that Trump has requested (source). As of writing this on January 18th, Standard & Poor estimates that the shutdown has cost the American economy $3.6 billion (source).
All of this money spent — and nothing in return.
Now, considering that Democratic leadership likely knows that this loss to our economy is predictable, why don’t they just give in and take a loss for the greater good? Because, for one, building a border wall makes serious insinuations about what our country is supposed to be. And two, giving in to stubbornness sets a horrific precedent, and only encourages more future stubbornness.
Giving in now, though maybe making fiscal sense initially, would lead to a far greater cost in the future.
But what is my larger point here?
My point is that when it comes to the president, character, interpersonal competence, and the actual ability to make deals aren’t just nice skills to have. They are essential pieces of building a workable legislative agenda. Without a functional plan of leadership, people get hurt. Real people get really hurt.
The federal government isn’t a place for games.
I’m not here to point out why the border wall is bad policy, but I am here to point out that even as just proposed policy, it is vastly harmful. Without a single stake being stuck or a shovel being shoved, the sheer idea of a border wall and its use in negotiations is hurting our country in measurable, objective ways.
When 2020 rolls around, we must keep this in mind and try our damndest to not elect an unqualified, immature, petulant, disunifying, stubborn, arrogant, cowardly, and dishonest person to serve in the highest office of the land. We need reasonability in government.
But for now, we will suffer under the leadership we so poorly chose, all the while remembering that every cent wasted in this struggle is 100% preventable.