Commentary: Shutting Down the Shut Down

Over break, my family, like millions of families across the United States, was preparing for relatives to come over for the holidays. We made pecan pie from an old family recipe and dusted off our fancy silverware, grateful to be together. But while we along with millions of other American families were getting into the holiday spirit, 800,000 government employees were receiving the news that for the indeterminable future they would be working without pay or not working at all. By refusing to back down his xenophobic border wall fantasy, President Trump is solidifying his legacy of a failure to stand up for hundreds of thousands of working Americans.

Since December 22, approximately 25% of the government has been shut down, according to The Hill. However, the government is not shut down because of some freak natural disaster or crazy apocalyptic scenario. Instead, this government shutdown, which will soon be the longest in history according to CBS, comes after President Donald Trump was refused the 5.6 billion dollars he requested for the construction of a southern border wall.

A.Zeng/The Phillipian

When asked about the shutdown, Trump remarked, “I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing. I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it ‘doing what you have to do for the benefit and for the safety of our country,’” according the New York Times.

Trump’s uncompromising attitude is also dangerously detrimental to the national economy. When the government shut down for sixteen days in 2013, the S&P estimated that the loss was nearly 1.5 billion dollars per day. Right now, the shutdown is costing nearly one million hard-working Americans a valuable paycheck, which they would receive January 11 under normal conditions, according to the Hill.

What makes this even worse is that while these Americans are not getting paid due to this shut down, members of congress, who have the power and platform to directly negotiate with Trump, are.

Additionally, the government shutdown also poses drastic consequences to our wildlife and national parks. Since Thursday January 10, Joshua Tree National Park in California has been closed due to, “sanitation, safety and resource protection issues in the park that have arisen during the lapse in appropriations,” according to a statement from the National Parks Service.

David Lamfrom, director of the California desert and national wildlife programs for the National Parks Conservation Association, also said to the Los Angeles Times, “Deserts are really unique systems… the impacts being caused [by the government shutdown] could take hundreds of years to recover from.”

J.Jang / The Phillipian

While the shutdown may seem distant, Andover community members can do something to help workers in need. One alumnus, Seth Moulton ’97, representative for Massachusetts’ sixth district (which Andover is a part of), has a uniquely large chance to make an impact. For the past couple weeks, Moulton has called out President Trump and house republicans out on the government shutdown via Twitter. Now, it is time for him to translate those words into actions. I call on him to join 44 of his congressional colleagues  and withhold or donate his paycheck until the government shutdown has ended.

Another thing members of the Andover community can do is call on their representatives to do the same. I will be reaching out my congressman, Antonio Delgado, and ask him the same I have asked of Mr. Moulton. Just like so many other things, change can come from ordinary citizens and congresspeople alike. It is crucial that we work together to stop this appalling shutdown so that hundreds of thousands of people and precious national parks do not have to pay the price.

Ava Ratcliff is a two-year Lower from Bearsville, N.Y. Contact the author at