I found peace following a semester at war with homesickness. Once again able to drive around aimlessly, eat endless pits of Mexican food, catch up with family and friends, remind myself of the lovely desert town that built me. My arrival back in the United States triggered an intense honeymoon period with the land that I grew up in. For once, I felt proud to be American.
As the holiday season picked up, however, my disappointment ensued once again. A little reminder of why I was so over the States in the first place popped up at the perfect time. Because Congress could not reach an agreement with Donald Trump regarding allocations to fund his border wall, the government partially shut down just before Christmas. There are still limited options for proper, attainable resolution.
The power dynamic between Congress and the president is to be appreciated, especially when it comes to setting our budget. Gridlock truly is a part of the US government’s game. But when our government gets to the point of a needlessly lengthy and poorly founded shutdown, it’s nearly impossible to find a sense of pride in our leadership.
While I was genuinely uneasy about the politics and rhetoric behind Trump’s dreadful budget proposal, it would not be true to say that I worried about how the shutdown would impact me personally. I found my life to be marginally affected by the government’s disorder at worst. All seemed to be business as usual. But it later became important to me to understand the impact that a poorly managed government has on its employees.
Having seen government employees working for free—notably the TSA agents I briefly encountered—it became clear that they not only had little to no incentive to properly do their jobs, but they also had no means to support themselves and their families. Their personal financial burden coupled with a diminishing will to uphold US security is frankly worrying. I remember zipping through airport security in the blink of an eye, wondering if my bags were even scanned. It might be seen as a crisis that a few immigrants are coming across the border without documentation, but the real security crisis is that key departments that keep us safe are now suffering.
The shutdown has already seen astronomical consequences, but a perfect solution exists here: Trump needs to get over his pointless wall. His campaign promise yields nothing but steep opportunity costs. He’s sacrificing important institutions like university education, healthcare, childcare. His pride is currently costing countless Americans their livelihoods, and it’s certain that five billion dollars can easily be used towards building up the American people rather than building a useless wall.
In a time of disorder and disillusion I have not abandoned all hope just yet. I can trust some members of the House to set a reasonable budget. But I am definitely over the back-and-forth. It is certainly time for our few saviors to press into the executive and get right to work.