By Victoria NeelyColumnist
Since the first of October, the latest news around campus, our country and even the world has been the United States government shutdown. The shutdown is a result of an impossible gridlock between the House of Representatives, where republicans are the majority, and the Senate, where democrats are the majority. Reigning over all of this stands President Obama, who sticks to his party’s platform and will not give up funding for the long-debated Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
While some people are not directly affected by the government shutdown, the grim reality is that 800,000 or more government workers have been cut off from their jobs. The House passed a bill promising to repay these workers for the time they lost, but this is no solution to the growing tension bubble that will soon pop.
If this shutdown continues, it will damage our economy, consumer confidence and the United States’ standing around the world. Such consequences may not seem extremely important to the average college student, but in actuality, they can have dramatic effects on those who rely on government funding for food and housing subsidies or school grants. Because new grant applications are not being processed during the shutdown, some students may be forced to take out extra private loans in order to manage tuition payment.
Through this growing crisis, polls have shown that over half of the country disapproves of the way both democrats and republicans in Congress have allowed the Obamacare debate to lead to a shutdown. The major disapproval of both parties and the president shows how discontent Americans are with the government’s lack of compromise and agreement.
But the low approval ratings do not seem to have any effect on the way our congressmen work. Their disagreements have driven the government to a halt, yet they continue to point fingers at each other instead of working together to solve problems.
Republicans and democrats across the country are playing the blame game. No one wants to take responsibility, and most cannot seem to work together for the greater good of the people.
The growing divide between the two parties is increasingly evident even on Hofstra’s campus, as the rift between the College Republicans and College Democrats is larger than ever. But partisanship on campus does nothing to help the situation. As college students, we should be the generation to stand up against the growing chasm between the two major parties in power.
As voters and active citizens beginning our lives in the real world, we should learn to more efficiently influence how Congress represents us. While our power to change the way the partisans in Congress interact is minimal, a movement against the negativity that has infiltrated our government could show our leaders that we the people are fed up. Writing letters, sending tweets and even just being informed about the current issues we face could have a significant impact.
When the Congressional leaders finally come to a consensus and end the government shutdown, America will still not be clear of danger. These disagreements over funding will fire up once again when October 17 rolls around and there has to be a decision on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. Failure to reach a decision on this pressing issue will be extremely detrimental to our country’s well being.
Many college students may think, “why should I care?” Becoming an active voice amidst this constant political uncertainty is the only way that Americans can affect the outcome of Congress’ decisions. In my humble opinion, this is the time when we should be joining together as citizens living under the same government, rather than splitting apart as partisans following our own parties.