Intellectual Shutdown

I’m sure by now you are thoroughly sick of the transparent messaging squabbles involved in the “Schumer shutdown” versus “Trump shutdown” debate that ended earlier this evening. The particulars of how we arrived at this strange moment in American politics are complicated but comprehensible, and they involved a detailed accounting of the parties’ (and the president’s) positions on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy, not a silly hashtag war about who is to blame. Both parties are to blame in a sense, of course. The salient question, however, is whose role in shutting down the government was justified and to what extent. That’s an inquiry that involves both an assessment of the parties’ values and whether their negotiating positions and public statements support them—a full consideration of who is being consistent, who is negotiating in good faith, and whose words are backed up by their actions. But that’s not what we are getting.

For all the talk of how the media has adapted to the Trump era, the shutdown coverage has shown how far we have yet to go. Continue reading