For the 22nd time since 1975, an impasse between Congress and the President has resulted in a partial shutdown of non-essential government offices. Like the 21-day shutdown in 1995-96, this one is occurring over the Christmas holidays when little government work is done anyway.
Members of Congress went home after failing to approve a modest down-payment on essential border security. Thankfully, President Trump has stood strong for building a wall along our southern border, where over 100,000 people crossed illegally last year.
Of course the Republican Congress should have addressed this long ago, not days before they lose their majority in the House. It should not have required a successful “GoFundMe” fundraising effort for the wall to prod the House to finally authorize $5.7 billion to fund it.
Some Democrats are refusing to support a border wall merely because Trump supports it. As Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said last week, “I talked to four Democrats that said: ‘Look, if you just stop calling it the wall, we’re in.’”
Democrats have thought that a shutdown always works to their advantage, but that calculation changed after Republicans benefited from the Schumer shutdown last January. Trump had generously offered to sign legislation protecting the children of illegal aliens, but his offer was rebuffed by Schumer and Pelosi.
Democrats claim they support “border security,” but what they really mean is money to process thousands of bogus claims of asylum by people hoping to land in the great American safety net while they wait for their claims to be heard. Trump has outfoxed the asylum industry by requiring claimants to remain in Mexico while they wait.
To reinforce his commitment to protect Americans first, the president also announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria, where ISIS has been decimated, along with a reduction of our involvement in the 17-year, no-win war in Afghanistan. He accepted the resignation of the defense secretary who disagreed with these decisions.
Among the D.C. swamp dwellers, many of the same people who resist building a wall on our own border insist that American troops be permanently deployed in faraway countries. They support an endless presence by our soldiers elsewhere, but oppose a wall to protect our own people from the influx of illegal aliens and drugs from Central America.
“We fight for the borders of other countries,” Trump tweeted on December 22, “but we won’t fight for the borders of our own!”
It’s time to recall the first government shutdown in American history, and how a future president won that battle with his bold, decisive action. It was in December of 1776, when General George Washington was camped along the Delaware River in northeastern Pennsylvania.
On December 12, 1776, Congress adjourned without extending the enlistments of American soldiers or approving their pay for the coming year. Members of Congress abandoned Philadelphia, where they had been meeting, because they feared the British troops nearby in New Jersey.
Once the soldiers’ enlistments ran out, the Continental Army would disband and soldiers would return to their farms in the 13 colonies. Some soldiers had already gone home, some were barefoot, food was running short, and winter was coming in.
But Washington was not going to give up the American cause without a fight. In an incredibly bold and risky maneuver, he decided to load his entire army ― men, horses and munitions ― into boats to cross the icy Delaware River on Christmas night.
To inspire his men, Washington ordered them to assemble for a public reading of Thomas Paine’s new pamphlet, “The American Crisis,” which had just been published on December 19: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
On December 23 and 24, many boats were collected and secured with the help of experienced seamen. The crossing began at sundown December 25, and lasted all night amid horrendous weather: rain, sleet, snow, ice, and winds that were called a hurricane.
It was daylight on December 26 when troops reassembled on the Jersey shore. They marched 9 miles to Trenton where they surprised and defeated a contingent of British-allied Hessian troops, took them prisoner and captured their food, supplies and horses.
That was the early turning point in the American Revolution, thanks to the leadership of George Washington against all odds. Trump displays the same kind of initiative needed to put our Nation back on the path sought by our Founders.
Amid the current Democrat-caused shutdown, Trump delivers to the People the best Christmas present a president can give: leadership to Make America Great Again.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.