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Government Shutdown: A Local and National Conundrum

By Rebecca Canales

Founder and CEO

Whittier 360 News Network

As the clock ticks down toward yet another government shutdown, a report from Chris Potter at WESA provides some revealing insights on the dynamics at play. This unfolding situation warrants a look at two key elements: the disconnect between the national and local nature of U.S. elections, and the public perception of who bears responsibility for this potential crisis.

A Familiar Clarion Call

It's worth noting that this isn't the first time the distinction between local and national elections has been raised. I, Rebecca Canales, Founder of Whittier 360 News Network, have been emphasizing this crucial nuance since the 2020 and 2022 elections. "America doesn't have national elections, we only have state by state elections," I stated back then, underscoring that the United States does not have a national election for President like other countries. This is an important dynamic that many on the left and within the social justice movement simply fail to grasp. Understanding the local nature of U.S. elections is essential for anyone seeking to make sense of American politics. The Democrats at the time won with the help of foreign governments and foreign nationals meddling in those local American elections.

The Local vs. National Dichotomy

Building on that, it's tempting to view political standoffs like the imminent government shutdown as a national issue that impacts every legislator in Washington D.C. uniformly. However, this notion is far removed from the reality of U.S. elections. As Potter pointed out, "We don't have national elections"— instead, they are decided "state by state, district by district."

To put it simply, each Congressman's fate is primarily determined by their constituents and local concerns, not by broad national movements. For instance, a Republican representative in a staunchly conservative district faces far less electoral pressure to compromise on budget issues than one in a swing district. This is why we see lawmakers like Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick, who co-chairs a bipartisan "Problem Solvers Caucus," promoting compromise as the path forward.

The Blame Game

New polling data reveals another angle of this complex story. While media narratives often suggest that Republicans would face the lion's share of public scorn for any shutdown, the recent Monmouth University poll highlights a different sentiment. When asked who they would blame for a shutdown, a total of 48% indicated that they would point fingers at Democrats in Congress or President Biden, as opposed to the 43% who would hold congressional Republicans responsible. This includes a significant number of independents—52% of whom said they'd blame either Biden or Democrats in Congress. These numbers indicate that there is a significant portion of the public that holds Democrats responsible for the standoff, perceiving their refusal to compromise with MAGA Republicans as the crux of the issue.

Where Do We Go From Here?

These observations underscore the importance of understanding the granularity of U.S. politics, which can't be neatly summed up into a singular national narrative. As we navigate the fraught landscape of pending shutdowns and fiscal cliffs, it's crucial to keep in mind that the issues aren't black and white, and neither is the public’s perception of who's at fault.

Whether you align with the MAGA Republicans or lean more towards the Democrats' perspective, the reality remains that each Congressman is beholden to the will of their local electorate. The public, meanwhile, is more divided on the issue of blame than one might expect. It's this complex tapestry that makes U.S. politics both frustrating and fascinating, inviting each of us to delve deeper into these issues before drawing conclusions.

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