I do not especially like writing about “negatives,” but I feel that core values of fairness, reason and basic civility are being disregarded by our “leaders.” This weakens our democracy, regardless of political party or philosophical views. I sense that many, if not most of us in the country are worried by our political turmoil, but sadly, many fear voicing their private concerns in public. This also weakens our democracy. I do not claim to be right, but there are also such things as wrongs. It is OK to disagree, but it is only through discussion of our differences can we learn from one another and find acceptable paths forward together. So much for why I am writing: Is it arrogance or indifference, or both?
We are entering a second month of an unprecedented partial government shutdown that is directly hurting hundreds of thousands of Americans daily and indirectly stressing many more.
One can argue the merits of a wall along our southern border, but there is no denying that President Donald Trump repeatedly campaigned on a promise to “build the wall” and the stipulation that Mexico will pay for it. The president was not able to achieve his wall dream during the two years his party controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It was only during the televised meeting of the president with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in December that the president vigorously played his trump card of shutting down the government if his guests would not fully fund the wall that he demands.
It is important to temper one’s beliefs and wishes with reality. There is no question that we have vast and relatively insecure borders, but there is also no question that this stalemate of obstinance on one narrow and debatable issue is damaging to many U.S. citizens. It is likewise difficult to imagine that any of the involved “leaders” is providing “essential services” while they so calmly ignore the plight of our people. This tragic and artificial drama is being played by both major political parties in Congress and by the president’s executive branch.
I would like to suggest that all pay and benefits except security be withheld from the president, White House staff and all members of Congress and their staffs until the government is fully reopened. The people who decide to use their own countrymen as pawns while playing power games should experience at least the same burdens they so willingly impose upon others. This should be done immediately if a similar event occurs in the future.
The furloughed and unpaid government workers should receive full backpay plus interest equal to the rate that legislators allow credit card companies to charge. I would not support any backpay for those whose political intransigence is causing this fiscal catastrophe for so many.
Allan G. Schlicht,
• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.