Holding the government hostage is no way to build the wall

The government shutdown continues while President Donald Trump refuses to budge on funding for a border wall. Graphic by Maria Nevada

Will Patterson

At the time of publication, the government is still shut down. Around 800,000 Americans are employed by the federal government. Most have gone the entire holiday season without a paycheck, and it is unclear when the shutdown will finally end.

On Jan. 8, President Donald Trump made a public address about the government shutdown and the border wall funding. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer gave a Democrat response following Trump’s speech. The speeches gave Americans a glimpse into the tug-of-war currently bringing the government to a standstill.

If there is one thing that can be said about Trump, it is that he can become unyielding in achieving his agenda—even if that means plunging thousands of Americans and agencies in crisis. The promise of a wall once seemed like an almost comical suggestion when the Republican party first began its search for a presidential candidate. In 2019, the argument has reached a crescendo.

“My fellow Americans, tonight I’m speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” Trump said at the beginning of his address.

Trump continues his speech with the usual rhetoric: undocumented immigrants are bringing crime, drugs and just about any other negative side effects into the country. In the same breath he said he is trying to reduce the suffering of these undocumented immigrants. These comments follow the months of Trump claiming the migrant caravan was an “invasion”.

The Republican platform has a legacy of fighting overreaching federal government actions. Trump’s decision to double down on a government shutdown is a prime example of federal overreach. The very essence of Republican values are being washed away by the desire to have this final solution to border security.

The American people have been presented with an ultimatum that they cannot participate in. We are forced to watch our public services slowly get decimated by a lack of funding because many politicians—and many American citizens—don’t want to see $5.7 billion put into a border wall.

On a nonpartisan note, a scary precedent is being established. The current administration is marching us towards a government where government shutdowns are strategic bargain chips, where federal workers and those who rely on their services pay the price whenever a major disagreement develops in Congress. This cannot be the system with which our government functions.

The government shutdown is a hostage situation and we’re all paying the price. A proper leader would not hurt their own people in retaliation against a political opposition.