Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The blame is his alone

Infographic: The Longest U.S. Government Shutdown In History | Statista

The USA is now enduring its longest-ever government shutdown, and the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of one person: The current occupant of the White House. He has been enabled by the US Senate’s Majority Leader and the Republican caucus, but they didn’t cause the shutdown, and they stand to lose if it goes on. Ultimately, Republicans are the only ones who will be able to get the current occupant to end his stunt, assuming that anyone at all can get him to understand reality.

The stunt is a pure partisan game that the current occupant is playing because he was scolded by a couple bloviating blowhard professional Republican moaners. Up until that point, he was willing to work on a bipartisan agreement, but the moment they nutty windbags criticised him, he freaked out and in his panic he abruptly changed course.

Since Democrats took control of the US House, they have repeatedly said they’ll pass the bipartisan measure the previous Congress had taken up. But the current occupant wants it his way only, and he’s trying to bully Democrats into doing his bidding. That’s never going to happen.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the US Senate are refusing to take up the previously-passed bipartisan spending bill, because their party's leader in the Senate is convinced he can continue to obstruct rather than govern, just as he did when President Obama was in office. This time he's obstructing the US House of Representatives, thereby enabling his president. Republican Senators, many of whom are vulnerable in the 2020 elections, won't tolerate that forever. They're the ones who can force the Senate to pass the measure so they can place ALL the blame on the current occupant when he inevitably vetoes the bipartisan bill. Their motivation—electoral survival—may no less self-serving than their Senate leader's or their president's, but despite that, it's the right thing to do.

Millions of Americans have been affected, from federal employees who may not be able to pay their rent or mortgage and who are seeking help from food banks, to contractors, to companies supplying goods and services to the US government, to ordinary people who want to do something the federal government controls. The current occupant doesn’t care about any of that, of course: It’s always first, last, and in between about him and his massive ego, and nothing more. He doesn’t care who he hurts or how badly he hurts them, because to him no one matters but himself. One thing that’s absolutely certain is that if those same bloviating blowhards criticised him for not reopening the government, it would be open again within milliseconds—or however long it would take him to type out the Tweet.

The chart below shows that a majority of Americans correctly blame the current occupant and the party he leads for this stunt. That’s more than the combined numbers of those who choose to blame Democrats or both parties equally. The other two charts of partisans; views may look like it just shows strong partisan feeling, and it does, but look at the differences between them: A mere 6% of Democrats blame their own party, while two and a half times that number of Republicans know their party is blame. Also, three times as many Republicans as Democrats blame both parties equally, which suggests many Republicans know their party is to blame, but can’t bring themselves to say so. This is why there’s 17 point difference in the numbers of Republicans who blame Democrats as opposed to Democrats who blame Republicans.

No one can say how or when this shutdown will finally end, or what it will take to get the Republican Leader of the Senate to act like a grown-up for a change. We can’t know how many people will ultimately be hurt by the current occupant’s petty stunt, nor how badly. But people will be burned while Nero fiddles.

Still, there’s one thing that both parties ought to do: Unanimously pass a bill saying that in the event of a government shutdown, the salaries of all US Representatives, US Senators, Cabinet Secretaries, the president and vice president and the Members of the Supreme Court will be stopped until the government reopens. If the politicians are going to play games and shutdown the government, then the elites must suffer, too. Or, they should outlaw shutdowns completely. But having one rule for the elites and another for common people is precisely why the numbers of Americans who approve of politicians is declining and the number who perceive government itself as being largely illegitimate are growing. And that’s a far bigger threat to the republic than the Narcissist in Chief or his lackeys in Congress.

Infographic: Who Are Americans Blaming For The Shutdown? | Statista

The chart up top on shutdown length through January 14 is from Statista. The other chart, on who Americans blame for the shutdown, is also from Statista. Both were released under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 3.0 license

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