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Retire this trick


02/08/18



 Not too long ago it was Democrats and folks on the left incredulously asking how Republicans could shut down government to advance their legislation. Now it’s Republicans saying the same thing after Democrats shut down the federal government for a few days to advance their legislation. 

Is it any wonder that most Americans have a negative view of Congress, politicians and all the special interests vying for favor? 
In a few weeks the country will likely be watching again as cable news counts down to the next federal government shutdown. It’s enough to dismay even the most optimistic. 
But our political process is a messy one by design. I doubt the framers thought it would be this messy or so dysfunctional as to actually unnecessarily close government offices, but it was designed to be tricky. They feared the rule of one person, one group and the great majority. Their goal was a system so convoluted that it would be hard for someone to take control of it. And boy did they succeed. 
Government shutdowns, however, are rather new to our federal political system. They started under President Ronald Reagan in shoving matches with the Democrat-held Congress and heated up after Republicans took over the House of Representatives in the mid 1990s during President Bill Clinton’s term. Shutdowns went away for almost 20 years as a political tool until 2013 when Republicans shut down the federal government to force President Barack Obama to defund Obamacare. 
This latest round centers around a decision by President Donald Trump to end an Obama program that allowed children brought here illegally to stay here and legally work and go to school. Trump has been trying to leverage allowing those folks to stay to get more funding for border security, including the building of a wall or barrier along the southern border with Mexico. 
Interestingly, there are enough votes in the House and Senate to pass legislation allowing these people to continue to live here legally, but not enough in any one party and not enough when the legislation gets mixed with border security measures. It’s this clash that led many Democrats to believe they had to use shutting down the government as leverage to get legislation passed to allow those people to stay here legally. 
Almost certainly in a few weeks we’ll be right back where we were earlier this week: with a government shutdown looming. 
It’s time to retire this trick. No matter how good the cause, the continued operation of the federal government shouldn’t be used as leverage. There are other ways — other elections to make it right. 





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