By ALEC HUDSON – STAFF WRITER
For over two weeks the United States Federal Government was shut down. National Parks, museums, and monuments were closed, federal workers were furloughed for two weeks, and benefits to millions of Americans were cut due to lack of workers to process the claims.
The infantile attitude of Congress, due to partisan differences over the Affordable Care Act, has affected millions, and during the partisan chaos, Centre students bore witness to the madness. For senior politics and anthropology major Jamari Jones, the shutdown worried him about his future employment. “I start thinking about the job market, and since I’m a politics major I might not be able to go into government employment because they cannot make a simple agreement,” Jones said. “It just makes me more careful about what field I’ll be in when I graduate, I’m so unsure whether a shutdown will happen again, and it’s scary when thinking about jobs.”
For others, like sophomore psychology major Jo Patterson, the shutdown affected their travel plans. “My friends and some family had planned to go to Mammoth Cave for a weekend, but the shutdown canceled that, [so] it was really disappointing,” Patterson said. For senior international studies and Spanish major Nick Do, the shutdown had no direct impact, but he had friends who weren’t so lucky. “I know of some students at other schools who had long-term assignments postponed because the Library of Congress document exchange program they were to use was unavailable,” Nick Do said.
With the disappointment of Congress’s partisan gridlock, students gave their own views as to how a shutdown could be avoided, describing a need to put the citizens’ needs first, though some reserved outrage at political parties. “People need to actually work together and get stuff done, instead of promoting their personal agendas. Fighting over the budget is not the time to promote your own agenda. You need to keep the country’s and the people’s interest at heart,” Patterson said.
Jones also argued for Congress to put the people’s needs first, but he also claimed that politicians need to be open to compromise. “They just need to have an open mind to certain situations, putting the people first before their jobs,” Jones said. “We elect these people into office, and they are so partisan that they stick to their ways to get reelected, but if we can find a solution to the problem we can learn how fix this partisanship and make sure people come first. I felt with the shutdown they didn’t put the people’s best interests first, when government employees couldn’t go to work that’s not in our best interest.”
Nick Do took a normative tone, primarily blaming the shutdown on the ideological rigidity of the Republicans. “The general idea of our political system is that we as voters choose individuals from our midst to govern, and what happened was the right-wing of the GOP simply decided that, unless it got its way on Obamacare, it no longer wants to fulfill that basic function. It’s an abdication of responsibility and it is childish,” Nick Do said.
When asked what would say to Congress and the President if they had the chance, the students echoed the need for compromise and common solutions. Jones sees a need to get the government working properly again. “Let’s put more action into the government instead of arguing and fighting, let’s try to move forward and try to get more policies that will help us as a nation,” Jones said.
Nick Do was again more partisan, telling the House Republicans to “grow up.” “Obamacare is the law of the land right now. We can talk again in 2016 if you take the Presidency and still insist on getting rid of it. But right now cool your jets,” Nick Do said. “Threatening to shut down the government is not a bargaining chip, it is ransoming.”
Patterson was a little more frank, blasting the immaturity of political leaders. “I’ve seen kindergarteners who can work together better,” Patterson said. “We can work better together; the government is by the people and for the people, not what do we want for our own personal agenda. Congress needs to grow up.”
If only Congress listened to Centre students.