Opinion: Have you tried turning it off and then on again?


Shealah Craighead / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, meets with Republican and Democratic legislative leadership members Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead).

Nisha Marino, Highlander Editor-in-Chief

We’re nearly halfway through the Trump presidency, and we’ve started the year with no government.

To say we had one in 2017 or 2018 would be a stretch, as the Trump administration seemed to hold itself together with contradictory statements and spray tans alone. The odd golf stick gave the government some semblance of a structure, but alas.

After two years of chaos, 2019 began with nothing — literally. Trump wanted to be a memorable president, and by breaking the record for the longest government shutdown to date, he sure has done it. Pat on the back, Donny.

Because of the president’s struggles with his long-promised Mexican border wall, the American government has been closed for business since Dec. 22, 2018.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, about 380,000 government employees have been furloughed, while 420,000 must continue to work without pay. In the second category are those employees whose jobs have been deemed essential for national security, such as those working for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The personal consequences for these people are massive. Extended time without a paycheck can be damaging to any person and their family. Many TSA agents have called into work sick, while others are quitting and looking for other jobs.

Beyond the personal consequences, the national consequences of the shutdown have been devastating. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) halted food inspections during the shutdown, though they are reportedly restarting some inspections using unpaid workers on Jan. 15.

Government shutdowns are also historically difficult for national parks, as their work is not considered essential to national security. At the Joshua Tree National Park, visitors have cut down the namesake trees, and all parks nationwide have experienced struggles with maintaining the health of our ever-important wildlife.

So, what’s the point? Why put thousands of Americans in a tough financial situation, why endanger our collective health and our environment? Ideally, there would be a good reason to halt government work. But there is not.

Trump’s border wall is too expensive and too ineffective to be worth these 24 governmentless days. The Democrats refuse to agree to the wall’s construction, and Trump refuses to reopen the government without it.

Trump claimed responsibility for the shutdown on Dec. 11, 2018, when he told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down it didn’t work.”

Mr. President, be a dear. Remember that the wall’s construction is not the government’s sole purpose. It’s not in the Terms and Conditions. It’s not going to solve the immigration “emergency” you created, and it’s not going to get constructed in the next week. What is going to happen in the next week, if the government continues to remain closed, is the continuation of unfair, unpaid labor by federal employees.