As of Friday Jan. 11, 2019, the United States government had been partially shut down for 21 days, tying the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Previously, the longest shut down occurred in 1995, going into 1996, for somewhat similar reasons.
At the time, Democratic President Bill Clinton couldn’t agree on a spending budget with the majority Republican Congress. The issues discussed then were reforms related to Medicare, education, the environment, and public health.
Now, in 2018, there has been an almost record-breaking shut down because of disagreement in our government over funding for border security. More astonishingly, the disagreement really lies in the semantics of the proposed plan. The president has been discussing the issue, saying that he doesn’t care if the plan is referred to as building a wall, or a barricade, or what have you. However, when confronted by democrats or fellow republicans, who also see border security as a pressing problem, President Trump refuses to abandon his original idea of building a wall along the entirety of the southern border. During his campaign, he rallied people on this plan. There was to be a wall too tall for people to climb, too sturdy to break, and that Mexico was surely going to pay for it. There was an entire subsection of his website devoted to the proposed plan.
As we have profusely seen in the last two years however, Trump is changing the narrative. He now claims that his first call to action was never actually going to happen. He claims that he has everything figured out so that the possibility of building this 5 billion dollar wall won’t fall on the taxpayer. However, when the Press Secretary to the White House is asked about this plan, Sarah Huckabee Sanders appears to not have a solidified answer.
This is an interesting time in American politics. It is a time when the president can spread misinformation, refuse to answer questions from the media and can hold the government and its employees hostage for the advancement of his own personal agenda.
Since the 2016 election, the United States of America has been exceptionally divisive. From average citizens to congressional members, it seems increasingly more difficult to come to bipartisan achievements. With this kind of political polarization only growing, it is imperative that the president act the role he was given: to be the uniting factor that puts America and all of its people, first and foremost.
Before Dec. 22, Trump stated that if the government shut down, he would keep it going for as long as it takes, and weeks into the shutdown he stands by his sentiment. Whether Republican or Democratic, the rest of Congress, and thousands of furloughed government employees have spoken: the shutdown needs to end. Trump can reopen the government and continue negotiations over the spending budget. There is a way to ensure the security of the American people, without dismissing the voices of more than 800,000.