The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

October 4, 2013

Watch Congress closely

— There has been a lot of debate and discussion regarding the so-called government “shutdown.”

A quick recap, in case you’ve been ovewhelmed by the constant news coverage over the last couple days: members of Congress on both sides of the aisle seem deadset on getting their way regarding next year’s budget, with Republicans bent on delaying and defunding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Democrats refusing to budge on the issue.

The shutdown has had little immediate impact in Hunt County. While pundits and talking heads screamed about the oncoming shutdown like it was the end of the world, Hunt County has continued to operate as normal. The shutdown has caused fear and confusion, but much of it seems unwarranted.

That doesn’t mean that we won’t begin to feel the long-term effects. A prolonged shutdown will (and already has) negatively affected the stock market. Nationally, programs like WIC that provide nutrition assistance to mothers and children have already closed down.

And we don’t have access to our many national parks, museums and zoos. We can certainly live without them, but don’t plan on vising Yosemite or Yellowstone soon. The shutdown will undoubtedly affect us in countless other ways as well.

With the “debt-ceiling” talks set to begin in the near future, the United States remains diametrically opposed on key issues like health care and government spending. This won’t be the last fiscal problem we run into.

While the shutdown will bring adversity, we have an opportunity to shoulder the load like we’ve done time and time again and prove to the world (and Washington D.C.) that we can overcome problems, even if they’re self-made.

It is also important that we focus on gaining information and critically analyzing it, rather than allowing these situations to fill us with fear or anxiety. These kinds of problems are not solved with hand-wringing. They are solved with logic and reason.

As Americans, we also should feel empowered. If we don’t like the way Congress has been acting in regards to the shutdown (or anything else, for that matter), we are the ones that vote them in and out. Whatever your priority is, you have the opportunity to vote for politicians with similar mindsets on the municipal, county, state and federal level. An opportunity that many in this county ignore.

In short, the shutdown isn’t the end of the world. But it is a real problem without a solution at the moment. We should watch our Congressmen and women closely over the next days and weeks and hold them accountable for their actions.

The opinion expressed here is that of the Herald-Banner editorial board. The board can be reached at