I understand frustration over the government shutdown, especially on the part of government employees who are bearing the brunt of all this. I know that you are among those of us who can least afford to lose your salaries. Both my parents were government workers earning considerably less than their private sector counterparts without the benefit of meaningful union representation. I understand the sentiment expressed by so many people inconvenienced by this shutdown that politicians should “stop bickering and simply do whatever it takes to get the government open again” so that life can go back to normal and we can get back some measure of security.
But here’s the thing folks. This is not “just politics.” This isn’t a tug-of-war between two equally unreasonable and stubborn forces. This is the case of a United States president bypassing the will of congress to use our tax dollars in financing a wasteful, unnecessary and ineffective border wall. He is doing so by effectively shutting down essential government services until he gets his way. Giving in to the president’s demand will set a dangerous precedent for executive overreach, leaving the constitutional framework of our government in tatters. For those of you who think that congress should simply cave in to Donald Trump’s infantile temper tantrum and give him what he wants so that we can all have some peace and security, I would strongly encourage you to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Americans in every generation have died to defend the constitutional system of checks and balances ensuring protection of our basic freedoms. If we can’t put up with some short-term pain to ensure that our constitutional framework is preserved, we dishonor the graves of all those who died to establish it and preserve it for us. If we cannot bring ourselves to stand for our constitution, then we deserve to live on our knees. Here’s hoping that the House of Representatives stands firm.