Things are looking pretty dismal for the Republicans right now. They’re in the toilet with voters (Gallup shows a 28 percent approval rating) and have very little leverage for negotiations with the Dems. And it’s tempting to interpret that number as a victory if, like me, you’d prefer to see the party disintegrate by the next election cycle.
But this is bigger than politics, and I’m going to be a bigger person and say that, despite the twinge of schadenfreude that comes from watching GOPers flounder around so haplessly, I truly wish this shutdown had never happened. Beyond the much-publicized memorial and park closures, some serious stuff is going down because of this nonsense; and it’s only getting worse with each passing day.
Patients have been turned away from cancer treatments due to lack of funding for clinical trials. Programs to help feed hungry families have been hit hard, as have services to shuttle battered women from hospital rooms to safe shelters. Hurricane research centers can’t perform all of the testing that helps them issue storm warnings. And small businesses that thrive on tourism at the aforementioned national parks? They aren’t earning a dime.
Some small startup businesses can’t even open shop without government-backed loans, which are unavailable right now. Veterans can’t get their tuition assistance, and Native Americans are losing nutrition programs and financial assistance for the poor. Roads overseen by park rangers are coned off — one of these roads in Tennessee is a school bus route, so some kids can’t take the bus to school anymore.
The longer the shutdown continues, the greater the toll on our economy. We can’t afford to take steps backward into the recession that we’ve barely climbed out of. What’s bad for the country is bad for all of us.
And as much as Republicans are to blame for this debacle (which they undeniably are), the president is not exactly coming out smelling like a rose. People were already disillusioned with both political parties before this started, and the shutdown is not helping. Not that I fault Obama for not caving to the right; letting tea party lawlessness rule could have produced far worse consequences than the shutdown.
No matter what happens in the end — and let’s hope this ends quickly — there are simply no winners in this political game.