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Editorial: Partisanship not the path

By the ECHO Editorial Board

We cast our ballots, joining a tradition of democracy, a system founded to provide for the voice of the people, or at least the majority. We campaign, throwing our support behind candidates, parties. Despite President Barack Obama’s election, the result of a democratic process, our Congress is in a gridlock parallel to that of the 1990s, still arguing over the popular mandate.

Rather than fulfilling the duties dictated by our founding fathers, to discuss issues of national interest, analyzing varying perspectives, and passing resolutions, our Congress is at a stalemate. The current Congress, with a democratic majority in the Senate and a larger Republican presence in the House of Representatives, is polling at a dismal 5% approval rating. Whether you’ve been following the government shutdown or not, this is absurd.

Two bodies meant to check each other’s progress, to aid the passage of well-thought out laws, are holding the nation and government workers in a state of limbo. In 1995 and 1996, the government shut down for a total of 27 days, the Republican House majority clashing with the Democratic Clinton administration. But after these weeks, the two parties compromised, emphasizing a balanced budget in the future. Thus far, the 2013 shutdown seems to have taken a different turn.

Instead of negotiating a solution or expending the necessary energy to compromise, each party’s leadership left the White House on Wednesday without reconciliation. In fact, it seems an even stauncher position has arisen, as Republican Senator Ted Cruz and John Boehner, among other legislators, through a leaked strategy, reveal they aim to “win” the shutdown.

Regardless of political affiliation, the ECHO urges its readers to stay informed about the crisis and truly consider the state of our current political system. With the shutdown of the government, some social programs, like food-stamps and Social Security, may have remained intact, but tens of thousands of government workers have been furloughed and the international community has taken notice.

Even as we near potential resolutions for this government debacle, discussions of raising the national debt ceiling are set for later this month, presenting another opportunity for this destructive partisanship. The stakes will increase, as the country faces the frightening possibility of defaulting on national loans, jeopardizing the US’ position in the international economy.

Amidst the steady stream of repetitive news stories, the vows to party leadership that one faction will emerge victoriously, the ECHO has the following question: is this a process we deem acceptable?

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