How the Government Shutdown Could Backfire on the Democrats

If Democrats keep refusing to compromise, they might also be blamed.
January 24, 2019
9 mins read

The government is partially closed in what has become the longest shutdown in United States history. It began on Dec. 22 and currently affects more than 800,000 federal employees.

The government was shut down due to a disagreement between President Trump and Democrats over the president’s request for almost $6 billion for his border wall. The wall, one of Trump’s campaign promises, has become a dividing issue in the country, and neither side will back down.

There are several agencies affected, including the Justice Department and Homeland Security. Some workers who are considered “essential” are being forced to work without pay, such as TSA officials, but many are responding by simply calling in sick. The Smithsonian museums and some national parks have also been closed, and food stamp programs will be affected if the shutdown does not end soon.

But, what actually caused the shutdown? In other words, why did Trump finally decide to forcefully request a border wall?

In December 2018, an appropriations bill that did not include funding for the wall was passed and came close to being signed by Trump. However, the president got pushback from his supporters for not advocating for his border wall, and he decided that he would only sign a funding bill that had money for the wall.

To add to this, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnel, has refused to allow the Senate to even consider any appropriations bills that do not have the type of border security funding that the president wants.

So now, the country is waiting for Trump and House Democrats to come to an agreement. However, it’s pretty complicated, because neither side can easily appease the other side without upsetting their supporters.

Trump cannot give in and allow the government to be funded without getting his wall, or else he will likely lose many of his far-right followers.

For the Democrats, if they simply gave the president his border wall without getting anything in return, they would have no credibility and the American public would be unlikely to support them.

Trump himself said that he would take the full blame for the shutdown during talks with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi. In fact, Trump even said, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security … I will take the mantle … I am not going to blame you for it,” referring to the Democratic leaders.

However, just hours before the shutdown began, Trump tweeted that if not enough Democrats voted to support border security, then there would be a “Democrat Shutdown.” He has continued to blame Democrats for the shutdown since then.

Honestly, both sides share some blame in this; neither has really tried to compromise.

Trump’s latest proposal was that, in return for $5.7 billion for border security, he would give temporary immunity to immigrants from the DACA program.

This proposal was quite obviously going to be rejected by the Democrats (and it was), because it does not offer a permanent fix for DACA and the Dreamers. While Trump would get his wall, Democrats would only to be able to help the Dreamers for three years.

In the end, though, when the shutdown is over, the Democrats are going to be the ones who are hurt in the long run. Trump will probably get his wall, and the Democrats will bear the majority of the blame for the 800,000 workers who were not paid.

Right now, polls claim that the majority of people blame Trump for the shutdown, but there is still a significant percentage of the public who blame the Democrats.

And, as America learned in the 2016 election, polls are not always accurate. Most polls predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but Trump managed to win. It’s thought that this prediction error was due in part to people lying because they did not want to admit their support for Trump, and this could be happening again, causing the current polls to be incorrect.

Trump has also been skilled at getting people to forget his past slip-ups — who talks about his alleged scandal with porn-star Stormy Daniels anymore, for instance? Things move so fast in politics now that people forget about Trump’s alleged issues quickly. While it might seem like he will get blamed for the shutdown now, I think that in a few months, people will begin to blame Democrats.

And, as I said earlier, both sides are partly to blame as it is. Pelosi has been engaged in petty battles with Trump, with the speaker of the house asking Trump to postpone the State of the Union address, and the president responding by cancelling the speaker’s overseas trip.

But the public almost expects Trump to behave this way — people commonly say that he acts like a child. So, his role in this game of revenge is nothing new for the public, and people will probably forget his actions soon enough.

However, Pelosi is not normally involved in petty things like this, so she is more likely to get pushback.

Plus, the Democrats are refusing to even consider any bill that has wall funding. Unfortunately, Democrats have to be the bigger people in this argument with Trump, and they may have to give the president at least some money for his wall in order to open the government again and help the 800,000 federal workers who are not getting paid.

Although Trump’s offer was perhaps not made in the best faith, when people look at who is actively trying to end the shutdown, it looks as though the Democrats are unwilling to compromise at all. Trump has agreed to give the Democrats DACA in exchange for border security money, but the party claims they are completely unwilling to give Trump any money in any spending bill they support.

While I agree with much of the left-leaning public that Trump’s wall is slightly ridiculous and unnecessary, I think the Democrats need to be garnering as much support as possible right now, and the best way to do that is to try and compromise with the president. Even though some liberals will be angry that Democrats have to give money to Trump, they should understand that the decision was made to save 800,000 federal employees from unemployment.

If Democratic leaders continue to refuse to compromise with Trump, they will be blamed for this shutdown, and that will have lasting consequences as the 2020 election draws near. Democrats need to think more about the future, and perhaps give in a bit on this battle for the good of the country.

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