COMMENTARY

Politics as Usual: A Culture of Shutdown

10.1.13 Govt Shutdown

By Jermon Williams – 

So, exactly why are we in the midst of yet another government shutdown? It’s quite simple: Congress hasn’t passed a budget since 2008. And as impractical is it sounds, it’s a reality that has resulted in an incremental approach to solving Americas most vital, yet logical task of funding the government. By definition, a government shutdown is a predicament in which the government discontinues the funding of all but “essential” services. Strategically, it’s a move that has left millions of Americans weary of Congress and unconfident in their ability to govern effectively. Through the pandering along partisan lines and sound bites, it’s accurate to say that there’s much to lose on all sides – especially when you consider the vast array of looming outcomes, from inadequate funding of critical human services to jobs.

Interestingly, and contrary to some opinions, the conceptual framework of a government shutdown is a rhetorical space that our country has operated within for decades. Since 1976, the U.S. Federal Government has shut down on 17 occasions – most notably, for 21 days in 1996 as President Clinton and a Republican controlled House fought over, dare we say it, the budget. Fast forward 17 years later and the tactical narrative remains the same: legislate when deemed permissible, even if it comes at the expense of American lives. Still, like anyone else, I’m hopeful (and fairly optimistic) that a compromise will be reached before it’s too late because…in all honesty, it’s imperative.

Considering the stakes, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that they will agree on a deal to keep the federal government funded. My hope is that measures are adopted by both parties to break the cycle of dysfunctional and irresponsible legislation.

Jermon Williams, a contributor to “The Information Age”, weighs in on political issues that impact all of us.  Jermon is a Partner with Broccoli City and President of the Congressional Black Associates.

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