West Side Story in D.C.
Week two of the "Government Shutdown" has caused limited effect in the lives of most non-government employees, but it has shown everyone the true dysfunction of a bloated and partisan federal government.
It is sad the only example of government stoppage being used by the media is the closures of our National Parks and Monuments. Rarely is any other function of government is even mentioned. The Obama Administration has, however, excelled at closing open-air monuments and non-patrolled parks to prove its point – but it is a weak point at best.
If the administration was really serious, more than the current 17% of government functions would be closed. Shutdown of all non-essential personnel should look like the skeleton crew, which functions on Christmas or New Years Day…but no. Even the "dog walker" at the White House has been deemed as essential, as is almost everybody else especially within the president’s sphere. Therefore, this is a shutdown only for posturing of political power and not really about public policy.
Each 10 years the desire for this political power is thickened through the gerrymandering of political districts. Partisans are concentrated or diluted as needed to enhance the abilities of the party in power. By artificially maneuvering the boundaries of the voting districts, we create a deeper philosophical divide – leaving us in our current situation.
Only 51 percent of voters are needed to elect or re-elect the intended partisan. As a candidate they have to first win a partisan primary before facing off in a general election. The primaries tend to play deep into the desires of the base voter – the hardcore partisan.
No one is thinking compromise during a primary campaign – candidates are trying to be unflinching leaders. When elected they later trudge to Congress and vote as they promised in the heat of those Primary Elections. Their constituency demands it; and, above all else, those politicos want to keep their jobs and not be challenged in the next primary, so they keep their promises.
Until we have correct geographic and political redistricting (and term limits) we will continue to see a deeper divide and a more dysfunctional partisan government in our nation's capitol. We will continue to hear the phrase "we are winning" as if government of, by and for the people is a game. It is not!
In Washington, it is Westside Story being played out north of the Potomac. The Jets and the Sharks are getting ready to rumble and posture, running their combs through their hair and sounding tough. They are trying to impress the public and each other when in actuality they are just juvenile delinquents.
The Affordable Healthcare Act was only the excuse used to start this clash, which was destined to eventually occur. Years of heavy-handed partisan politics, and continued ideological divide years ago, pointed to this outcome. It is a shame the families of selected government employees must be caught in the middle.