Beginning today, the government of the United States officially shut down and furloughed all non-essential personnel. While members of the military may continue to work, if the shutdown extends until February, they will likely be working without pay. Unfortunately for Republicans, most Americans are ready to blame President Trump and the GOP itself for the government freeze, giving Democrats potential ammunition against them for the 2018 midterm elections.
According to a recent poll, 48 percent of Americans would blame President Donald Trump and the Republican Party for the government shutdown, while only 28 percent would blame Democrats, The Hill reports. This troubling poll comes at a time when President Trump’s approval rating is at a dismal 39 percent, marking a record low approval rating for modern U.S. presidents after their first year in office.
The public’s readiness to blame the Republicans and Donald Trump likely stems from the fact that the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the presidency as well. In fact, this is the first time that a government shutdown has ever occurred in America when one party controls both the legislative and executive branches of government. And since that party is the GOP, voters are clearly showing their dissatisfaction by blaming conservatives for being unable to prevent this outcome despite their breadth of political power.
“A government shutdown never ends well for Republicans,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. He added, “and it seldom ends well for the party in power.”
Even more troubling for Republicans is the fact that the government shutdown can be directly linked to President Trump’s racially charged remarks last week in a bipartisan DACA meeting. The government shut down because Democrats refused to sign onto a Republican spending bill which did not fix the DACA program. The Republicans would only agree to fix the DACA program if the Democrats agreed to border security spending measures, including money for Trump’s wall. Before the shutdown, however, Donald Trump was open to sign a bipartisan DACA deal. When Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham came up with a bipartisan deal, they were blindsided by Trump’s rejection of the deal and subsequent expletives.
Democrats will be sure to capitalize on the public’s perception of the GOP and President Trump during this critical moment and remind the people of their feelings come election day in November. Despite this, government shutdowns have proven to be unpredictable. Many commentators believed that the Republicans would be hurt by their 2013 actions which led to a shutdown due to their dissatisfaction with Obamacare. However, in the subsequent midterm election, Republicans took control of the Senate and gained an impressive majority in the House of Representatives. Some pundits attribute this win to the public itself being dissatisfied with the Obamacare roll out, which could’ve vindicated the GOP in their eyes.
Needless to say, President Trump is placing blame squarely on the Democrats’ shoulders for not signing on to the GOP spending bill. In fact, he’s making it a campaign point by stating that the public needs to vote in more Republicans in order to prevent shutdowns like this.
Some say that neither side will really benefit from the shutdown due to voters having short memories. The Huffington Post reports that in 2013, negative opinions about Republicans due to the shutdown were pretty much gone in three months. If the same trend follows here, neither side will benefit from using the shutdown as a political weapon.