With less than two months to election day, most political reporting has focused in on the race for the White House. Understandable – we’ll be electing our 45th (and if Trump wins, possibly our last) president soon.
But did you know that our current cast of political characters are still acting? They are! And though they may not be in the spotlight, they’re engaged in some pretty hefty drama:
We’re once again at the threshold of a government shutdown.
The issue this time is a spending bill that, while mostly bipartisan, does not include emergency funding for Flint, MI, which is still reeling from its water crisis. Democrats have threatened to block the Continuing Resolution, which is scheduled to hit the Senate floor Tuesday, if it does not include the $220 million in aid funding they have called for. (Democrats also object to language that would continue to allow public companies to make political contributions without disclosing them to the SEC.) If the stop gap does not pass by midnight this Friday, the US will enter another partial government shutdown.
In 2013, the government closed for 16 days, from October 1 to 16, after Congressional republicans used the CR as a pawn in their fight to defund Obamacare. The shutdown, the third longest in US history, deleteriously impacted government programs, the economy, and government workers, among other things – and made household names out of rising conservative stars like Reluctant Trump Supporter Ted Cruz. It was a dangerous, thoroughly embarrassing moment in American politics – one that in retrospect presaged the current climate in Washington and on the campaign trail.
Voters’ current resentment of establishment politics was undoubtedly born from it and the petty gridlock it symbolized, and the outsider rhetoric that Trump – and, more intelligently and constructively in the democratic primary, Bernie Sanders – has pushed this election cycle capitalizes on that disillusionment.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that it is “too early for people to panic about a government shutdown,” and lawmakers up for reelection are unlikely to risk their seat with another 2013 debacle. The bill to keep the government funded through at least December should arrive on the president’s desk by the Friday deadline.
But that it will be so close – and that the same argument will begin shortly thereafter – is a testament to our governmental disarray and a symptom of our political ataxia. Inefficiency is one thing – it’s baked into the democratic process, and a certain amount of it is arguably necessary; if lots of voices are being heard, things’ll get messy. But our political system is beyond partisan gridlock – it’s a clogged toilet overflowing into the rest of our society.
photo credit: KAZVorpal