Neither Democrats nor Trump have much incentive for a compromise, wrote Noah Feldman. He goes on to assert that “a long shutdown would exert real negative gravitational pull on the stability of American government.” A long shutdown sends the message that the US is not functional, Feldman wrote. Less enforcement will lead to more violations of regulations, and the rest of the world will eventually catch on.
- Will a lack of regulatory oversight encourage people to break the rules?
- Will a longterm shutdown create lasting effects?
President Donald Trump in a meeting with congressional Democrats on Friday said he was prepared for the partial government shutdown to continue for months – or even years – if he doesn’t get the money he wants for a wall along the Mexican border. It’s not hard to see how that prediction comes true. Both sides have framed the issue such that a victory for one side on funding a border wall entails defeat for the other. Neither side has much incentive to compromise.
Suppose Trump is right. The longest shutdown on record is 21 days, from late December 1995 to early January 1996. (This is the 21st in the modern era.) What would a much longer shutdown mean for U.S. political life?
Judging by public reaction thus far, you might think the answer is, not much. After all, we’ve become increasingly inured to Trump’s attempts to break established quasi-constitutional customs. Maybe keeping the government open is just another unwritten norm; maybe breaking it isn’t the end of the world.