I understand why it would be insane to spend even a day without controllers, troops, Transportation Security Administration screeners, Coast Guard officers, FBI and Border Patrol agents and a laundry list of other truly essential workers employed by the federal government. What I don’t understand is why we tolerate a system that lets elected officials fail to do their one real job — funding the government — with no consequences for anyone in power. Instead, the effects are felt by everyone else, from the workers whose pay is delayed indefinitely (or possibly lost, in the case of idled contractors) to the taxpayers who aren’t getting the services they’re putting up the money for.
When the consequences for the public are too great to ignore, things happen. If essential employees were idled by a shutdown, we probably wouldn’t have shutdowns — and we certainly wouldn’t have any that lasted for days, let alone weeks.