Faculty Members Comment on the Government Shutdown

October 2, 2013

Day two of the government shutdown with no end in sight. We asked members of the faculty to offer their perspectives; below are some of the responses we received.

"Although many Americans are wary of the health care law, they overwhelmingly think that shutting down the government because of implementation of the ACA is a bad idea," wrote Marion Just, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Political Science. "If opinion polls continue to oppose the shutdown, some Republicans might waver, but true ideologues expect that the threat of a world financial meltdown over the debt ceiling will bring the President to the negotiating table."

"Our political system is set up right now to create incentives for elected officials to cater to the preferences of a small, organized minority instead of heeding the preferences of a broad democratic majority. Thus we see groups like the Tea Partiers taking the House Republicans—and hence the U.S. government—hostage," wrote Hahrie Han, associate professor of political science. "Combating this depends on revitalizing our civic infrastructure to re-engage more ordinary Americans in the work of democracy."

Linda Carli, senior lecturer in psychology and an expert on social influence, communication, and leadership, wrote: "Most Americans have limited information or understanding about the Affordable Care Act or the implications of the government shutdown. As a result, they are prone to base their judgments on what they hear from politicians and the media. This makes it possible for politicians to blame others for the intransigence in Congress and avoid taking responsibility for actually doing their jobs."