Experts blame GOP split for two-week government shutdown

By Matt Daray


Political experts at SIU say the split within the Republican Party is to blame for the government shutdown, now entering its third week.

But the Marion Tea Party denies fault and instead blames the president.


David Yepsen, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute director, said the shutdown could dramatically hurt our economy, especially since it is recovering from a recession.

“I think it’s a terrible situation for the country,” he said. “I think it poses some real threats to our economic growth. We’re already seeing it in the stock market, and I just think it’s not healthy for a fragile economy to be jerked around like this.”

According to a poll by CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation from October 9, 63 percent of respondents are angry with the Republican Party. Yepsen said these polls show a strong dislike for the Republicans because of the split within the party that started several years ago with the creation of the Tea Party. He said this split has caused Republicans to take a lot of heat and could lower the number of voters for their party on all levels of government. It may even cost Republicans the White House in the next presidential election, he said.

This shutdown does not show that there is a problem with a two-party democratic system, Yepsen said, but rather the Republican Party has to figure out where it now stands politically.

“This has happened before in our process in this country,” he said. “We’ve seen parties dissolve over splits. I mean, it happened in the Civil War, and I don’t think the Republican Party is in danger of dissolving or anything like that, but I do think the Republican Party has some internal problems it needs to work out.”

Pam Ward, a member of the Marion Tea Party, said she thinks all conservatives think the shutdown is the Democrats or president’s fault.

“I believe they are trying to make conservatives look bad, they’re trying to make the Tea Party look bad, and I believe all along, it’s the president’s doing,” she said.


Ward said the hate aimed at the Tea Party is baseless because they are just a group of concerned Americans with conservative views who believe in the Constitution and have a strong stance against the Affordable Care Act. She said her party is in favor of having Democrats and Republicans come together in order to end the shutdown.

A failure for both sides to compromise is the main reason the shutdown is still in effect, Ward said.

“There’s no compromise,” she said. “It’s like one end against the other. (Democrats and Republicans) seem to be at each other’s throats.”

Bridging the gap between all parties to better the country might be hard to accomplish at this time, Ward said, and she doesn’t know whether the two parties will be able to fix the mess the shutdown is creating.

John Hamman, an associate professor in political science, said the shutdown shows a flaw in the U.S. government that allows small parties such as the Tea Party to have enough power to block legislation.

“I think a problem we have is this really is a problem of limited government and the ability of a minority to block the will of a majority,” he said.

Hamman said the country runs on a limited government with many parts, which makes it easier to stop legislation than pass it. He said the impasse on budget agreements came from the Tea Party refusing to sign off on the government’s budget unless changes are made to the Affordable Care Act.

However, blaming a party for the shutdown is not a solution because the problem lies within the government’s setup, Hamman said.

“When you get into a situation like this, the rules and the structure just allow this to happen, and it’s inevitable that these things are going to happen from time to time,” he said.

Kenneth Mulligan, an associate professor in political science, said the reasons for the shutdown are vast, but the main reason is for Republicans to attempt to block the Affordable Care Act one last time.

“There are many different facets and factors involved here,” he said. “One is this is a last-ditch effort on the part of Republicans to try and appeal or delay Obamacare, so if they don’t find a way to stop it now, it’ll just keep moving along.”

Mulligan said it is ironic that Obamacare is being blocked because the website for the new healthcare is not working, and the care could be delayed. He said another factor in the shutdown is the recently large level of governmental partisanship compared to how small it has been in the past.

The shutdown could have effects on both Democrats and Republicans alike, he said.

“Congress is the most unpopular institution in the country outside of, let’s say, terrorist organizations,” he said. “Their approval ratings have been down in the range of 10-20 percent in recent times, so they’re already very unpopular. For them to proceed doing something unpopular is probably not good for them.”

While the shutdown is a serious issue, Mulligan said, it is not as devastating as people are making it out to be. He said very few people will be affected by the shutdown as long as it ends within the next few weeks and the real concern is if the country can reach a deal on its debt limit.

Considering the bipartisan impasse, Mulligan said the odds of a third political party coming into power from the shutdown, or in general, is pretty much zero.

“Third political parties in the United States do not succeed,” he said. “They always get co-opted by one or both of the major political parties.”

As of press time Tuesday, the government has not found a solution to the shutdown, but scheduled meetings were in place Tuesday afternoon in order to find a solution before the impending debt ceiling decision.

Matt Daray can be reached at [email protected] 

or 536-3311 ext. 254.