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The Counter Opinion: Who won and who lost from the government shutdown

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United States House of Representatives chamber.

Welcome to The New Political’s new opinion series, The Counter. Here, two opinion writers are presented with a set of question prompts and asked to give their personal take. All writers are Ohio University students whose views do not reflect those of The New Political and are independent from its editorial team.

Freshman Charlotte Caldwell, a journalism major, and sophomore Maddie Kramer, a political science major, discuss the key implications of the national government’s shutdown over border wall funding. 


1. Do you think Trump’s decision to shut down the government for border wall funding was justified?

CHARLOTTE:  Trump’s decision to shut down the government was justified because neither side was reaching a conclusion, and something had to be done to get Trump’s point across that he was serious in his plans. Also, previous presidents have shut the government down for similar reasons, like when former President Clinton set the previous record for the longest shutdown in history when he refused to accept Medicare premium hikes and cuts. Trump offered a compromise by offering limited protections for Dreamer immigrants in exchange for the money for the wall, but House Democrats denied that the deal will be part of the deal to avoid another shutdown.

MADDIE:  It was not surprising that Trump shut down the government regarding border wall funding. It was one of his major platform promises and his crowds on the campaign trail chanted “Build the Wall”. However, his asking for $5.7 billion and then shutting the government down for 35 days in response to not getting it, was not justified. President Trump held federal workers hostage as they had to continue to work without pay, causing flights to be restricted in and out of LaGuardia airport in NYC due to limited numbers of air traffic controllers and TSA agents coming into work. President Trump should have put his pride and campaign promises aside for the safety of all Americans and for those federal workers living paycheck to paycheck.

2. Who ‘won’ the shutdown?

CHARLOTTE: Considering both sides didn’t reach a compromise, neither side really ‘won’ the shutdown. The Democrats are at risk of yet another shutdown and the potential of a national emergency being issued if there is no agreement in the coming weeks. The Democrats may have gotten a lead over President Trump, however, because they convinced him to reopen the government temporarily. Objections to the wall have also been a rallying point for the Democratic party and it has made them stronger.

MADDIE: The shutdown definitely made the Democrats look better in comparison to Trump and his GOP allies. Trump’s approval rating went down to 34 percent following the shutdown, down 8 points from his December rating. The short-term spending bill signed to keep the government open for another three weeks does not include funding for the wall. It is hard to say who “won” the shutdown, though the Trump administration took a hard hit.

3. What did Trump & the Republicans gain from the shutdown? What did the Democrats gain?

CHARLOTTE: The Republicans gained the public’s frustration with the government since government dysfunction causes people to lose faith in government, making them rally behind the Republican party. The Republican party also gained awareness for other border measures that need to be upgraded and could be considered instead of the wall. More money to control drugs at ports of entry and more money for human trafficking victims are things that Democrats are concerned about, and that Republican Senator Kay Granger proposed. This could potentially become a subject for compromise to avoid another shutdown. The offer is also on the table to only put up the wall in places where it is needed most, a plan that Democrats seem willing to take.

The Democrats gained party support, which is greatly needed for the race they are about to face for the Presidency in 2020.

MADDIE: Perhaps the biggest gain from the shutdown was the bipartisan measure to fund the government, albeit short term. This shows that in times of real struggle, both parties can unite for the good of the American people. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that the Democrats would be willing to “debate border security,” as another act of bipartisanship.

A large Democratic gain, however, was in poll numbers. According to a poll from Quinnipiac University, Americans trust Democrats, notably Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, more than Trump on issues regarding border security.  

4. What did Trump & the Republicans lose from the shutdown? What did Democrats lose?

CHARLOTTE: Trump specifically lost approval ratings from this shutdown, falling from 42 percent in December to 32 percent after the shutdown. The Republicans may have lost support from many government workers during the shutdown; it seemed like the Republicans who spoke out on the furloughed workers’ issues didn’t see the big picture on why the shutdown was an issue for government families. Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross is among one of the Republicans who seemed “out of touch” with the reality of the situation by saying that he didn’t understand why furloughed workers were frequenting food banks.

The Democrats lost a potential for a compromise on Dreamer immigrants that could have led to bigger talks about the future of immigrants, especially since the compromise also included potential immigrant issues like “urgent humanitarian assistance.” Since Trump has seemed pretty firm about deporting any and all undocumented immigrants, this could have been a stepping stone to making him change his tone.

MADDIE: The most notable loss from the Republicans was the fact that six Republicans voted “yes” on a Democratic Senate bill to reopen the government without border wall funding, including prominent Republican Mitt Romney. This can be interpreted to some as Republicans giving in, however, the bill passing was necessary for federal workers to get paid. This being said, many Republicans are not in favor of another government shutdown and seek compromise with Democrats.

The Democrats feel similarly. The biggest Democrat loss is the fact that there can be another government shutdown looming in three weeks if there is no bipartisanship in coming up with a new plan regarding border security. Sen. Schumer states that Democrats still are “firmly against the wall” but are willing to work with Republicans regarding “strengthening security”.

Final Thoughts:

CHARLOTTE: Trump and Pelosi are still at odds over the money for the wall, which is evident even in the postponement of the State of the Union speech. If the quarrel doesn’t end and they can’t find a way to make amends, neither side will step down from their stances. It seems as if Republicans and Democrats are in a hurry to make this issue resolved, so it is up to them to come up with a solution for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of struggling government workers across the United States.

MADDIE: Both parties want to avoid another shutdown, and it is evident the only way this will be able to happen is with bipartisan efforts to increase border security without using a border wall. The Republicans and Democrats have 21 days to come up with a solution that appeases both parties and the President to evade what could be another month without pay for federal workers.

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