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Government Shutdown: What Happened to the Win-Win?

by on January 23, 2018 5:00 AM

Don’t go there Joe. They solved it, so why comment on it now? You will just make people mad. You will just anger both political parties and throw gas on the almost extinguished fire.  

So be it. I am tired of kicking the can down the road. Too many of us have sat by idly while these “representatives of the people” in D.C. play chicken with the future of our already financially-challenged country. I have written in the past about a lack of common sense in the world but these days it certainly seems to be centered in our nation’s capital. And all parties are to be blamed.

The government shutdown impacted our family in a very subtle way that was just an inconvenience. There are many others who weren’t as fortunate and were inconvenienced in much harsher terms. It’s all because of the selfishness of our politicians, on both sides of the aisle.

Whether you preferred to call it the “Schumer Shutdown”, “The Trump Shutdown” or the “Dreamer Shutdown,” it is just a symptom of a growing problem in this country that pits people against each other with little regard for the consequences, intended or unintended, that impact the vast majority of our citizens.

My wife, Heidi, and youngest son, Ryan, drove our oldest son, Jonathon, to Dulles Airport for his departure for Panama. He is spending a semester in the jungle at an engineering practicum helping to build a new kind of sustainable town. “Junior” is our family’s “Indiana Jones” who loves these challenges.

Well, after dropping Junior off, the plan was for my wife and Ryan to tour the Manassas National Park and Civil War Battlefield. Ryan is taking AP U.S. History and wanted to spend some time where the first major battle of the Civil War was fought at Bull Run. The battle was a victory for the South over the North, but neither side really won anything more than bragging rights.

Sounds just like the government shutdown.

So when they arrived at the park, the visitor’s center was, of course, closed.

Here is what they found on the website:

Government Shutdown:

Because of the federal government shutdown, this website is not being updated and may not reflect current conditions. For your planning purposes, some parks in the National Park System may have areas that remain accessible to visitors; however access may change without notice, and some parks are closed completely. Be aware that there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance. For more information, see and the park website.

They walked the grounds and still made the visit worthwhile for Ryan who, like his father, is fascinated by Civil War history.

So, the selfish politicians were at it again. Playing their childish games instead of setting an example for the nation and sitting down to work together to find a compromise. Compromise seems to be a dirty word in Washington and in many political arenas as politicians cave in to their constituents who bark the loudest rather than doing the right thing for the sake of the nation.

Whatever happened to a win-win outcome? Why does it have to be “I win, you lose”?

I have reached the point of total disgust with our politicians who fight like little children in a schoolyard. Actually that does a disservice to kids in school yards who mostly end up compromising, making up, and learning to get along. 

Please spare me that it was this Democrat or that Republican that started it, caused it, won’t let it go, or whatever other rationale or excuse you want, because they are all part of the problem.

They all continue putting partisan politics ahead of what’s good for the people so they can win their next election. Of course, they will never vote to put in term limits or find a better way to make this all work. What would MSNBC and Fox News do for news if the politicians suddenly started working together toward real solutions?

“Kicking the can down the road” is one of the most overused phrases in our language (ranked No. 2 in “The most annoying and hated word/phrases of the year” in 2013, the year of the last federal government shutdown). But it illustrates the point of how we run our government where the incumbents are always first and foremost worried about saving their jobs. At this point the can has been kicked so much it looks more like a small ball that could roll on its own and there is no end in sight for the road. But one day the road will end and the can will likely go over a cliff. Perhaps it will roll off a “fiscal cliff” (the No. 1 ranked cliché in 2013!).

Common sense dictates that we cannot continue to spend ourselves as a nation into oblivion; we must find a reasonable solution to the immigration issue; we cannot continue to ignore the growing wealth gap; and we must confront the massive infrastructure problem we face.

The growing student debt problem is hanging over our heads, real wages have declined in the ever-shrinking middle class, and our roads and bridges need immediate attention. All of these cost money, which leads to the very sensitive and heart tugging issue of immigration. We need a solution folks, and we need it soon.

We are a nation of immigrants but we are also a nation of laws, and a nation that is also in serious financial trouble. We must find a reasonable, common sense solution for legal immigration. We cannot simply allow a free-for-all especially when we have a hard enough time taking care of our existing population.

Go to one of our major cities and you will get a better feel for the number of homeless that we already have so you have a better feel for why we must have an immigration plan. A December article by the Associated Press cites the surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and other West Coast cities is putting a strain on state and local resources. One significant problem with the growth of homeless is a deadly breakout of Hepatitis A, which is being spread through a liver-damaging virus that lives in feces.

There has to be a “win-win” solution out there. Now that the government is back to work, get the right people around the table and do what we pay you to do and make some tough decisions.

In a 2017 article in The Atlantic, Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, speaking on the subject of bipartisanship, said, “The forces that generate partisan polarization run very deep—from the way our campaign finance system works to partisan gerrymandering—so at any moment in our current era getting the parties to agree is a herculean challenge.”

In that same article, Morton Keller, a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University, said,

“Does history offer any comfort? Not much. …The two sides are too polarized, too locked into their respective world views.”

These are real problems coming home to roost. It’s time to pick up the cans once and for all and deal with them. So stop wasting our time with your childish posturing, act like adults and find the win-win for the good of the people.


Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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