How to prevent another government shutdown

It's our responsibility, as Americans, to prevent another shutdown. Photo: Government shutdown/AP

WASHINGTON, October 27, 2013  As Americans, we are complicit in these fiscal-cliff theatrics unless we make every effort to sift through the rhetoric and inform ourselves.

Underlying it all is the paradox brought to light by political scientist Richard Fenno. Americans tend to hate Congress but love their own representative or senator. This explains reelection rates of over 90 percent while congressional approval ratings hover below 10 percent.

SEE RELATED: Think twice about clean energy

Some of this paradox can be explained by “home style,” Fenno’s phrase that describes how congressmen are able to connect with locals while bringing pet projects and money to their districts. But, to some degree, our consistent reelection of our leaders means they reflect our beliefs rather well.

If this is the case, then, perhaps our leaders are not the whole problem. The hyper-partisan divides and intransigence in Washington are symbolic of our own political preferences. As citizens, community members, friends, and family members, we have a responsibility to listen to dissenting points of view. To extend the thinking of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, if we are not able to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” how can we expect our leaders to do so?

There is no doubt that some in Washington are only concerned about personal glory, the presidential election, or name recognition. These leaders hold only one sacred principle, allowing personal success to trump accurate representation. However, the duty then falls to us to hold them accountable. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible to vote out an incumbent leader who fails to reflect the true principles of the American people they represent.

Therefore, it is increasingly more important that we make sure our own principles are in the right place. “Important principles may, and must, be inflexible,” Abraham Lincoln famously said. If our principles become specific policies or agendas on which we refuse to concede, we achieve only deadlock and another shutdown. However, if our principles are grounded in reflection and thoughtful consideration, we will refrain from treating others as if their opinions are inherently worthless or laughable.

SEE RELATED: Is Wall Street in decline?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join a side. Parties can prove to be valuable sources of political information, and independents are hardly examples of wise, discerning people. Multiple studies have demonstrated that independents are less-informed politically than those who align themselves with a specific party.

But when four of ten people can’t tell you whether Obamacare is a law and others claim they like the Affordable Care Act better than Obamacare (hint - they’re the same), there’s a problem. Simply repeating talking points without doing any research of your own will only entrench the congressmen who refuse to compromise. If you avoid political discussion with those you disagree with, our leaders will do the same.

If we want to avoid another shutdown and promote responsibility in Congress, we have to step up too. Our leaders won’t start talking about the real problems until we do.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

More from Consider Again
blog comments powered by Disqus
Danny Huizinga

Danny Huizinga is currently studying at Baylor University, pursuing three business majors in Economics, Finance, and Business Fellows with minors in mathematics and political science. Although originally from the Chicago area, he is a Texas resident. Danny writes a political blog called Consider Again located at and is also syndicated at The College Conservative, RedState, PolicyMic, and the Baylor Lariat.

Follow him on Twitter or Google+

Contact Danny Huizinga


Please enable pop-ups to use this feature, don't worry you can always turn them off later.

Question of the Day
Photo Galleries
Popular Threads
Powered by Disqus