President Donald Trump’s plan to end the government shutdown includes $9.5 billion in aid, border security, and funds for the wall. In exchange, he’s willing to give short-term protections for immigrants eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). A “good-faith compromise,” his White House promises, but to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this move is a “non-starter.”
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also stood against it, claiming Trump is using the plan to “[offer] some of those protections that he took away back in exchange for the wall,” a move he compared to “hostage taking.”
This back and forth may sound just like business as usual in Washington, D.C., but because the government shutdown is at the center of this political duel, it is also clear the confrontation is but another product of the “larger culture war between red and blue America,” as the Mises Institute’s Tho Bishop put it. Unfortunately, when both parties have so much to use as leverage, they also have the power to fuel cultural conflicts as a result. Even when, deep down inside, these politicians all agree on the policies they fight over in public.
The fact of the matter is that both parties use or have used the border wall as a means to get ahead.
In the recent past, President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden all lobbied, supported, and advocated for harsher, more stringent border protection between Mexico and the United States. With Trump in power, the focus shifts and Democrats went all up in arms against the idea. The result was a partial government shutdown, which is holding us all hostage and costing businesses their livelihood as the usual federal roadblocks they have to overcome are now impossible to as there are even fewer government employees at work.
In some states like Alaska, where 61 percent of the state’s government is managed by federal agencies, industries such as fishing, oil, and tourism are all suffering. And all because we place our trust in men and women thousands of miles away who know absolutely nothing about our needs.
If the central government didn’t have such a huge presence in our daily lives, these fights in Washington would never be used as leverage, and politicians wouldn’t be able to use the power they have over to get what they want. But despite this reality, few if any members of the media are arguing that decentralization is the solution.
Make Communities Independent Again
As economist Ryan McMaken explained, power-thirsty politicians and their backers use the high concentration of power the federal government has as tools. And when the government controls everything from “cancer research to national parks,” McMaken added, “it’s only matter of time until we endure a political impasse over one of the countless issues being discussed.”
The only way to make Washington, D.C., a little less dangerous is to dilute its power. And that involves not only being part of nullification movements, which empower states to refuse complying with federal rules. It also means actively taking the authority over the several issues the federal government oversees from its hands.
The first step toward limiting the federal government is, as McMaken put it, be open and blunt about who’s to blame for this mess: those who mince no words in calling for giving the federal government more and more control over communities across the country.
So next time someone tells you Trump is evil because he wants a wall, remind them that it is also the Democrats pushing for more federal control who are making it possible for the president to exert so much power over the southern states’ borders.