Last week, students from all over the nation debated about the government shutdown through the KQED Do Now project. They were asked who is to blame for the government shutdown?

After failing to reach an agreement about the allocation of funds on September 30th, Congress declared a shutdown, something that has not happened since 1996. “Of all the responsibilities the Constitution endows to Congress, two should be fairly simple: to pass the Budget and to pay America’s bills.” President Obama spelt out these duties of Congress just hours before the government officially shut down. The shutdown will continue until the President signs a spending bill.

The Blame Game

During the week’s conversation, the discussion heavily favored the idea that the government should work together, compromise, and get back to its normal operating mode. We did see a lot of back and forth debating where students played the blame game.

Blame the Republicans

Students who blamed the Republicans found some interesting articles to support their claims. This tweet links to a Huffington Post story that shares out the findings of a national poll where the majority of Americans blame the Republicans. It is interesting to note that this student remained impartial despite the reference.

Another student tried to explain the complexity of the issue in 140 characters, noting that the Republicans are too caught up with the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s a tweet that a student posted which links to an article supporting the above claim.

Blame the Democrats

On the other side of the aisle, there were students who blamed either Democrats in Congress or President Obama. One student felt that Obama was being dogmatic to any kind of negotiation.

Another student expressed disappointment in the Democrats for pushing too hard to pass the Affordable Care Act.

Some even felt that Obama should drop the health care law and sign the spending bill that the Republicans proposed.

It’s the entire government’s fault…compromise!

Although there was a lot of this back and forth blaming of Republicans and Democrats, the majority of student tweets argued that both parties should be blamed for the government shutdown and that a compromise is what is most needed to pass the spending bill and bring the government back to work. Many students acticulated a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to fix the spending bill or agree on anything for that matter. These arguments for the most part were expressed through memes. Here are a few of them:

What about the 800,000 people who can’t go to work?

Although student memes brought humor to the matter, other emotions like anger and frustration came through students’ tweets, particularly the ones that expressed concerns for the 800,000 people who could not go to work and get paid as the shutdown caused an immediate furlough.

Other ideas about the voting process, the two party system, and next steps

Some students refused to blame the government as the people of the United States vote the officials into office…

…and that if we want to avoid these issues in the future, we should try to get out of the two party system.

Some young folks wanted to have no part of the blame game. They just wanted our government to move forward and get back to their jobs.

To view the entire conversation, you can revisit the Do Now about The Government Shutdown, scroll down and view student responses including the comments section.

Why Can’t the Government Work Together? 8 March,2017Matthew Williams


Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams is a filmmaker and media educator who has recently transplanted to Oakland from Los Angeles. He believes that you are what you eat and feels everyone should have a multitude of dietary options for self-realization. Matthew is the Educational Technologist at KQED.

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