The wall already exists — between left and right


As the government shutdown enters its fourth week with seemingly no end in sight, we can’t help but wonder if President Trump’s border wall at the heart of this whole kerfuffle hasn’t, in a sense, already been built.

With the Trump administration obstinate and the Democrats quick to put the blame squarely on his shoulders, it’s going to take a compromise between the two to end the stalemate, which neither side seems willing to negotiate.

And folks, that’s just bad government. As the hand-wringing continues, the 800,000 federal employees who haven’t collected a paycheck this month remain the pawns in a ridiculous game of chess.

The majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck; that’s the simple reality of the situation. Money made is immediately spent for most of us on the things necessary to sustain our lives: food, gas, clothing, day care, rent or mortgages. Many families don’t earn enough to have an emergency fund in place for times like these, and for those affected by the shutdown, their bills don’t disappear just because their paychecks have.

There are 4,977 federal employees in Wyoming, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and as recently reported in the Powell Tribune. Most work for the Department of Interior at national parks and agencies like the Bureau of Land Management, while others work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture or Department of Homeland Security. TSA workers at the airports in Billings and Cody are required to work long hours despite no compensation, and volunteers and law enforcement are being relied upon to care for Yellowstone National Park. One can only imagine what a disaster it would be if the shutdown had begun during a time when park access isn’t limited to start with.

Other national parks haven’t been as fortunate. Joshua Tree National Park in California, for example, has seen increased acts of vandalism as the ability to effectively police and monitor the park has been stifled.

The bottom line is it’s going to take both sides to come to the table to resolve this issue, with concessions made by both. With the Democrats back in control of the House, it would seem that arm of Congress is more intent on punishing the president for past transgressions then running an effective government. Conversely, the Trump administration’s continued bashing of the left’s refusal to fund the border wall while at the same time asking for its help seems counterproductive, at best.

But even with a divided government, we as Americans deserve better from our elected officials than what we’re getting. The government shutdown will end eventually (we hope), but when it does, what then? Once the border wall mess is resolved, what will be the next issue that will serve to keep our broken political system divided?

But first things first. Figure out how to work together long enough to end the shutdown; get a budget put in place and put people back to work. The rest we’ll have to figure out as we go.