After a 16-day government shutdown that nearly led to the United States defaulting on its loans, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the president were finally able to come to an agreement that would fund the government and suspend the U.S. debt ceiling. While immediate crisis is now over, the shutdown unveiled some major flaws in the U.S. government and left the public wondering what would happen when our representatives need to vote to fund the government in January and suspend the debt ceiling in February. How could the people we elected to represent us fail to come to an agreement to fund our government? Will partisan tensions cause another government shutdown in the near future, and will this potential shutdown lead the United States to default on its loans?
The government shutdown brought to light the increasing polarization and serious disorganization within the House and Senate. Obamacare has caused major tensions between Democrats and Republicans since it became law in 2010, but the government shutdown brought these tensions to a new level. Some members of the Republican Party prioritized de-funding or altering Obamacare over funding the government and suspending the debt limit. To the majority of the American public, it seems ridiculous that a few members of a party can hold the government and the economy hostage in an effort to get their way—and it is. The U.S. government was designed to represent the wants and needs of the majority, and attempting to destroy the vote of the majority and law in general undermines the entire structure of the U.S. government.
While the U.S. government looked like a complete disaster for those 16 days, the fact that Tea Party Republicans did not get what they wanted out of the government shutdown shows the strength of U.S. democracy. Democrats made it clear that they were not going to negotiate with people who were taking our government hostage, and this firm stance led to victory in the end. The fact that Obamacare came out of this chaos essentially unscathed proves that using undemocratic, senseless tactics to further the agendas of certain parties does not work and will not work in the future.
Although the U.S. government once again has to vote on a budget and debt limit in a few short months, I don’t believe that the United States will see another government shutdown. Tea Party Republicans’ use of the government shutdown as a bargaining tool was clearly a failure, and reusing a failed plan would not make any sense. Aside from this, the American public strongly disapproved of the shutdown. Since 2014 is an election year for all members of the House and some members of the Senate, it’s unlikely that any representatives will want to put their reputation and reelection at stake so close to election time. The chaos within the government may have highlighted some serious issues, but in the end, I think it renewed faith in the true strength of democracy.