A Curious Bystander

Megan Chrisler, Features Editor

Although the public is, and should be, angry at House Republicans, let’s all give them some credit for putting their money where their mouths are. Even President Barack Obama knows about having no other options than to carry out a threat via Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Even if they’re doing the wrong thing, they’re still doing it the right way.

However, if it hasn’t come back to bite them in the butt already, it will pretty fast. The last government shutdown was in the late 90s and was blamed on Republicans. While the economy hasn’t completely collapsed on itself — essential government programs are still up and running — this still has affected millions of people, and as the ones who originally gave the threat, they will probably lose the blame game. Also, as the President is a Democrat who has won a lot of points over Republicans regarding his left-wing agenda, I’m not completely convinced they were in a position to be making these threats — let alone executing them — in the first place.

However, Democrats have been no better than their counterparts. It’s only smart to use this as a tool to degrade the other party, but in reality they have been just as unreasonable and uncompromising. Republicans gave the threat, but when that threat became eminent, the Senate was as equally unwilling to let Obamacare die as Republicans were to let it live. After the official shutdown, Obama said that, “Absolutely I will not negotiate.” Even before the budget debates began, he was not willing to compromise over the debt ceiling issue. So while Republicans weren’t quite in a position to be making these threats, Democrats are being overly self-righteous about this.

According to recent polls, this game is only in Washington. A Gallup poll asked Americans if they were for, against or neutral about the Tea Party 22 percent were for and 27 percent were against; an overwhelming 51 percent were neutral. The public, then, is mainly moderate, and it is its leaders that are forcing it to choose between extremes (to get philosophical, Aristotle tells us that virtue lies in the middle of extremes). Supporting this is another Gallup poll that showed that 53 percent of Americans thought that compromise was more important than remaining faithful to party principles.

One thing we have learned from this is that too many people are dependent on the government. While many essential programs still ran, such as the military and Social Security, others had to be shut down along with the government; like The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Environmental Protection Agency. Many, if not all, of these programs could be privatized, making another shutdown less hard-hitting. More businesses also mean more possible revenue for the government. But this game is not about what is best for the American people, or even who is right; it is about power and the ability to exercise their own initiatives on society.