It's now official. This particular government funding gap has caused the longest continuous shutdown on record. However, this isn't the time to gloat. Not in my opinion anyway. I'm of the opinion this should be getting fixed as soon as possible. In fact, I believe most Americans are with me on that, it's just a question of how.
If only we were willing to compromise.
I say we because that can be said of both primary colors - red and blue. The difficulty at the core of this is that each side believes funding the southern border wall - or lack there of - is a matter of character, of conscience. Likely, the thought is that if any ground is given in the opposite direction, a piece of their personal moral fiber will fall away in the process. Obviously, it's hard to make such concessions.
Of course, this is legislation. Nothing ever comes out in a manner which fully satisfies everyone. Heck, one of our local legislators recently joked that if everyone is slightly disappointed in the outcome, that's usually a sign things were done well. Take the Federal Farm Bill for example. After its passage, U.S. Representative Steve King released a statement saying it wasn't perfect, but would largely benefit the country's ag producers. Of course, some aspects of that bill are seeing delay thanks to the current shutdown, but that's life in the big city...er on the big...acreage.
Now, of course, this shutdown's a bit more complicated since there's the threat of a presidential veto out there. So begins the finger pointing and the sound clip posting. 'Democrats supported the wall before.' 'Trump is going back on what he wants the wall to be.' 'Democrats voted for border wall funding last February.' 'Mexico is supposed to pay for it.' The list goes on, and everyone's heals remain firmly in the ground because they don't want to break with the party.
We seem to have lost some specific individuality.
We focus on the general - Republicans this, Democrats that. We believe the collective ideas and values of our own party are intrinsically and fundamentally better than those on the other side of the aisle. Oh, we'll focus on an individual once in awhile when it fits the general identity already assigned to the group. Unfortunately, groups don't grow and develop quite as easily as people do.
You see, I'm not actually upset Trump has used different terminology for his pet-wall project. I'm not upset Democrats said in years past border security needed to be amped up a couple notches. I'm upset at the lack of explanation. I want to know the why of it all. Like I said, people grow. People change. We learn new information and we adjust our thoughts, actions and attitudes accordingly. At least, we should. Case in point, Michelangelo's statue of Moses has little horns on top of his head because of a mistranslation of the Bible at the time. Once people caught the error, artists stopped depicting the Old Testament leader that way.
Obviously, for many a politician, something has changed. Heck, Kellyanne Conway admitted earlier this week that the White House had mixed up some numbers regarding illegal immigration. In fact, the Trump administration's own data from September seems to show a greater number of terrorist threats and drugs come into the county by plane and boat than across the Rio Grande. I'm all for stopping drug dealers and human traffickers, but this new information should cause us to reevaluate the effectiveness a border wall would really have on those problems. And since that topic is pretty central to why we're in a government shutdown right now, the data merits more discussion among the public and the legislature. It could lead to some changed minds in both cases, frankly. But those on Capitol Hill who change their mind too often are labeled flip-flops, which I fear may keep some from wandering beyond the confines of the party. Some would rather apply the proverbial spin to keep the stoic, unwavering consistency of thought the American public expects from its leaders. But, if nothing changes, then nothing changes and we remain as we are - shutdown.
In short folks, Congress can override a veto. It can be done. The House and the Senate can pick a dollar figure and rally support of it to reopen the government without the president, but that would mean the parties would have to work together, neither being able to claim victory over the other (alternatively, imagine if we just nixed the party system to pull some of these problems out by the root). Concessions would need to be made - the difficult kind. The kind that mean nobody gets everything they want. It likely wouldn't be an easy road. It would require our legislators to explain the why behind their compromises, but no one said a Congressional life was an easy one.