The most recent United States government shutdown of 35 days recently ended on January 25th. This wasn’t the first shutdown: there have been 13 government shutdowns since 1981, but the threat of the next shutdown may come before the end of the week. President Trump and the Republican Party have threatened another shutdown if they don’t receive the support they want on their border security deal. Regardless of specifics, what may have the biggest repercussions as a result of the shutdown is the normalization at which the state of our government has been in will become.
What will begin to be questioned by most Americans is the legitimacy of our current government. Regardless of whether or not the United Sates is democratic, our government should be judged on how they handle the basic duties and responsibilities that are entrusted in them. In this case the government cannot handle the steps involved with policy agreements without a shutdown at this point. The threat to the legitimacy of the United Sates right now will start with the public acknowledgment of an inability take care of their duties.
One can acknowledge the fact that the Democrats were trying to play hardball at first by not seriously acknowledging the presidents proposals. This was a legitimate negotiation tactic that they let get out of hand in the first place. The President made provisions to his original bill that was labeled in the public eye as generous. The problem is, the Democrats sat on these newly formed without giving a counter offer or negotiating for quite some time. This is all while they were saying that their priority was to reopen the government and get federal workers paid. The problem is when they didn’t act quickly or appear to make revisions parallel to the Republicans it reflected a government that not only was acting extremely selfishly but also dysfunctional.
Along with this what cannot be overlooked is the effect of what a shutdown is known to do internally to the government itself. With many federal workers being out of jobs over a lengthy period of time, they are obviously not getting paid. The result of this is federal workers looking elsewhere for employment where they know they won’t be without a job for month stretches over a year. As a result of this normalized sense of a shutdown new college graduates along with specific skilled workers within the government may no longer be there anymore. Losing these top grade specialized skilled workers will then lend the government to beginning to get 2nd or even 3rd tier workers at certain jobs. This will snowball in continuing to threaten the legitimacy of our democracy as well.
The government’s continued willingness to shutdown as a result of policy gains between parties may in the end increase the chance of a much larger threat to legitimacy of the democracy, as we know it.