It’s been over a week since the government shutdown started, and I cannot think of a single American whose life is better because of it.
As elected officials, we have a responsibility to serve our constituents. This government shutdown is hurting the livelihood of almost every American citizen. Those who have temporarily lost their jobs have bills to pay and children to feed. Others have encountered a lack of important services as well as “closed” signs on museums, memorials and hunting refuges, and the longer this goes the worse it will get.
We shouldn’t be expected to wait while lawmakers in Washington stare each other down in a dangerous game of chicken. It’s irresponsible and completely unnecessary, and I’m proud to say I don’t envision a similar situation ever happening in Vermont. Regardless of our party differences, we don’t gamble with the well-being of those we serve.
It’s not to say we haven’t had our contentious moments, but when all other means of resolution have failed we find a room, shut the door, and don’t come out until a solution is agreed upon. We never let it reach the point where Vermonters’ livelihoods fall victim to our inability to see eye to eye. There is always a solution.
It seems as though, in the current environment, every side is trying to declare victory at any cost. With that as a goal no one wins. In fact, every one of us loses. The longer the House, the Senate and President Obama perpetuate this finger pointing and name calling, the harder it becomes to reach a resolution.
At the end of the day, this debate defines who we are as people. With that in mind I ask our leaders to, please, seize this opportunity to prove to current and future generations that, even when the debate is heated and the challenges are great, there is no obstacle Americans cannot overcome when we work together.
I urge every side to lead by example: Find a room, shut the door, hammer out a solution, and then get back to governing. We all have work to do.
Phil Scott, a Republican, is lieutenant governor of Vermont.MORE IN Perspective
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