In case you have avoided any form of news for the past few weeks, the federal government shut down for a few days when neither the House of Representatives or Senate could get a simple majority of their members to support a funding bill. Key issues in this funding bill related to immigration, specifically the DREAMers and some notion about a border wall. There was the usual impasse before a three week substitute bill was passed and the government reopened.
Afterward, the usual calls for blood came from both sides of the debate, but I would rather focus on something that has gotten well past the point of ridiculousness.
Many of the news reports I perused had at least one voice that said the blame fell on the Democratic Party alone. They were the ones who held (insert program that is easy to rally behind) hostage for a bunch of illegal criminals! While it is true that the majority of air time to those who opposed this budget were Democrats, it should be noted that there were several Republicans who voiced concern with the bill and decided not to let it pass, therefore closing down the government.
It is ridiculous to insinuate that the only ones at fault were the party that holds the fewest number of seats.
Let’s look at the numbers. For a spending bill, a simple majority is needed to pass both houses. 51 percent of all elected officials need to support it in each house. In the House of Representatives, there currently stands 193 Democrats to 238 Republicans, with four seats currently vacant. Considering the total number of seats available (including the vacancies) in the House is four hundred and thirty-five, that means the Democrats have 44.8 percent of the voting seats to the Republican 55.2 percent. In the Senate’s one hundred-member position, forty-seven Democrats are currently elected, two independents who are caucused with the Democrats and the remaining fifty-one seats go to the Republicans.
Need I even say what party currently occupies the White House?
You can clearly see that the majority in each house of Congress belongs to the Republicans. This is not a presidential veto or any other special act of Congress that requires a supermajority of voters to approve. It was a bill that not even the entire Republican Party could get behind, guaranteeing a pass.
Dollars and cents aside, this has been a reoccurring theme for the past year in Congress and especially from the tenant of the White House. Can’t repeal Obamacare on day one? It isn’t my fault, it’s theirs! Unable to kill social security? A secret society is holding back the party of the people!
Saying something and then doing it often proves to be two different things entirely. Is it any wonder why the politicians promise such big and grand things that rarely pan out? Gradual change doesn’t sell well. We want the touchdown win, the first-round knockout punch. Something big, showy and immediate. However, in the real world just like the realm of sports, such things rarely happen.
That doesn’t stop politicians on either side from making such claims and sticking to them when a simple compromise would solve most situations. I understand that there are some beliefs that cannot be compromised. It was clear that a border wall, or lack thereof, was the one that could not be budged for some on both parties.
Because we were unable to reach a compromise, or an agreement to shelve the major projects for future debates when the government was open, the government shut down. If nothing major is accomplished, the three-week, short-term bill will expire, and it will be back to square one.
Unfortunately, the pundits, the voters and the elected will continue the round of shaming and degrading people who do not blindly agree with their biases. As usual, there will be talks about how this is the fault of the “machine,” the politicians or whoever is the scapegoat of the evening.
But if you really want someone to blame, blame me. I am a part of the democratic machine, I am the one who elects officials who have more ideology than sense.
The thing about living in a democracy of any form is that it is everyone who has to take the blame. Not one person, not one party, or even one movement. Every citizen has some fault to carry, some more than others perhaps, but we all shoulder that burden together.
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