By John Mills
Well, the new year has come, and brought with it more stunning mediocrity. Classes began once again only to come to a tumbling halt as we ran headfirst into a three-day weekend. As someone who caught this year’s Riddle plague—and still hasn’t totally recovered—it was a welcome break.
But the world turns on, and classes returned again for a four-day week, with students stumbling into Tuesday shaking off hangovers, probably. In two weeks, we got the first snow of the winter, so that was a plus the fifteen-degree temperatures in the morning were maybe not so welcome to those who had to get to class at 8 a.m., but they’re all already in their own personal hell, so what’s a little more torment? However, the most notable event so far was the government shutdown that started Jan. 20 which was the first time that happened since 2013.
The government shutdown was serious business that may very well be repeated in the near future. For those who are not familiar with how these things work, Congress has to agree on a budget for the government to be able to spend money—whether we have it or not is largely irrelevant to this process. The sticking point of this shutdown was the end of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
It’s an Obama-era program (that phrase makes me feel old already) that promised to not deport children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents until their twenties. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s one of the big targets in the Republican’s immigration reform platform.
So what happened, very generally, is that the Democrats refused to sign any portion of the budget bill until the Republicans took DACA off the chopping block. The Republicans refused to do any such thing, the bill didn’t get passed, and the Federal Government ran out of money. By sheer, amusing coincidence, the first day of the shutdown was the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. As far as I can tell, this has never happened before.
So what next? Good question. Congress basically spent the entire weekend trying to do something to get some gas back in the tank. The reached an agreement to fund the government until—wait for it—Feb. 8. But what this has done is highlight, in flaming letters 500 feet high, just how divided our Congress is.
People have immediately started pointing fingers as they always do, but the return of funding has not stopped anything. The fights over immigration and dozens of other issues will continue and probably only serve to divide congress even worse.
Those divisions are the same felt on an individual level across the country writ large. If you pay attention, they are noticeable right here on campus. Sure, no one is chucking insults, but there is a definite political divide on campus. Most of us are able to set aside political disagreements in general to get along, and I hope this remains the case.