When it comes to blame, there was plenty to go around Friday night at midnight when politicians failed to do their job and let the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shut down.

When it came to a solution, there was none, so the people paid the price. The solution is simple: include our politicians in the shutdown; why should they get paid while their staffers don’t? The simple answer is, they shouldn’t.

They (the president, Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer) should be put in a room. In the room could be three beds, a bathroom and unlimited bread and water for sustenance, with a meeting area where they could meet their legislative cohorts. To get out of the room is simple: do your job and find a solution to whatever problem you’ve been elected to solve.

Health care: get the same coverage as your staffers, similar to what all American workers get. If you don’t like it, fix it and create a health care system that works for all.

While they are at it, create an education system where all Americans have the opportunity to go to college, just like their children.

Flipping back and forth in the moments leading up the shutdown, and after, between Fox News and CNN, listeners got the tale of two cities. Both broadcasts played the same outtakes from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell. Both stations had their pundits spinning and supporting their own ideologies and preaching to their choirs.

After negotiations went from promising to no resolution, the rhetoric increased and the blame game began. Sanders, speaking on behalf of President Trump, began the fight by calling it the "Schumer Shutdown," putting blame squarely on the Democrats for keeping DACA and immigration a nonnegotiable part of the discussion. She blamed the Dems for putting their agenda ahead of our armed forces and veterans. Her combative tone suggested there was only one way to look at this, telling us it was obvious and we must be stupid if we didn't agree.

McConnell was next; he was more of a statesman, but continued to put blame for the shutdown squarely on the backs of Democrats, while assigning some of the responsibility for the lack of an agreement to the legislative bodies as a whole, and hinting that the president should have stepped up when a bipartisan solution was offered.

Schumer was last to the podium and wasquick to explain the process and how the bipartisan approach had led them to the edge of a solution, only to be shot down at the 11th hour by President Trump. Calling this the "Trump Shutdown," he made it clear that legislators from both sides worked hard to find middle ground needed to avoid the shutdown, with Trump's initial approval, only to see Trump change his mind after agreeing in principle, apparently after Trump’s top advisers persuaded him to ask for more, pleading with him to support his base.

This is an example of believing what you want to believe; having some room to vacillate, one's views are shaped by personal morality and political leaning, with final judgment based on the eye of the beholder.

The arguments from all sides rained down, pitter-pattering through the final hours until the clock struck midnight and the government shutdown became official.

There was blame to go around and Schumer's and McConnell’s collective point that our government of the people had failed us resonated. We are dysfunctional; that is the one certainty, and we can point a collective finger that starts at the top and funnels down.

Our president is supposed to lead us, bring us together and demand that all sides be heard. He must live by his promise that a bipartisan solution will be signed, as he said on live television. Our Republicans are to blame for not standing up to their president with "enough is enough" and the Democrats are to blame for overplaying their hand, putting politics above people, and not backing off attaching an issue (illegal immigration), that although important, has nothing to do with the budget process and should not be used as leverage to keep Republicans hostage.

The solution? We must point our collective finger upwards and then back at ourselves to demand that those we elect find solutions to problems, rather than create them.

In the end, the blame is shared by the American people for putting up with nonsense and not demanding more of their leaders.

If the eye of the beholder is where the blame-needle rests, perhaps looking at ourselves in the mirror will provide us with answers.


“People would rather live with a problem they cannot solve than accept a solution they do not understand.”

— Robert Wooley, professor (1936-2017)