Politicians should be held accountable for upholding their promises because nothing Trumps trust

Drake Goodman

Over the course of 243 years, our country has built a powerful institution: a government for the people and by the people. Everyone’s views are represented and our government is still efficient and productive, at least for the most part. In the United States, we have found a beautiful blend of democracy and capitalism—two systems that were in great opposition only a few centuries ago.

However, the recent government shutdown truly tests where we stand as a nation and the effectiveness of our country’s leaders. It was the longest in United States’ history, spanning 35 days. The shutdown occurred after President Donald Trump and Congress failed to reach an agreement on whether to allocate $5.7 billion in funding to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Although Congress opposed the proposed spending, Trump was unwilling to falter from his campaign promise of building the wall, resulting in a standoff and a subsequent shutdown. While the government reopened recently, the agreement was for it to only be temporarily open for three weeks, and if no further agreement is made by Feb. 15, then it will shut down again. Ultimately though, Trump’s wish for a border wall was a major component of his campaign, and if politicians make a promise, they need to follow through on their words.

However, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of Americans believed that the government shutdown was a “very serious problem.” In the same survey, 61 percent disapproved of how President Trump handled the situation.

Illustration by Lauren Steele
In light of the recent government shutdown, we must understand that above all else, politicians must uphold political promises.

While seemingly stubborn and uncooperative on the surface, Trump was simply attempting to uphold his campaign promise of keeping Americans safe by building the border wall. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center shortly after the 2016 elections, 79 percent of people who voted for Trump were in support of building the wall. To not follow through on a campaign promise would not only agitate his voter base, but could also ruin his 2020 re-election bid.

While detrimental to government workers, their families and small businesses in areas like Washington D.C., if Trump cannot garner funding for the border wall now, there is a possibility that it could never happen. This could stain Trump’s presidency and threaten his perceived strength as a leader, especially considering how many presidents have made a point of keeping their promises in the past. In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, a poll analysis website, over 67 percent of presidential promises from 1964 to 2004 have been upheld.

On the other hand, there are more components for politicians to consider than re-election. For countless other jobs, we expect people to hold true to what they say, or at least try to commit to doing so. Law and policy commentator David Allen Green believes that politicians should not be treated differently.

“Usually, when somebody lets you down over something important, you can threaten to get the law involved. For example, if a debtor does not pay what is due, or if another driver does not take proper care and attention, you can sue the culprit,” Green wrote in the Financial Times.

The effects of politicians’ decisions are much greater as well, for the policies that they enact and vote on will affect every citizen in some form. Just like any other American, politicians are not above the law.

While refusing to sign the federal funding bill without money for the border wall seemed like Trump failing to protect American citizens, this vision was one of the fundamental reasons for why he was voted into office. Additionally, building the wall is what, in Trump’s mind, will keep U.S. citizens safe. After all, one of the underlying purposes of government is to provide safety and security for its citizens, a principle that Trump is attempting to uphold.

A successful democracy is built on trust. Instead of condemning politicians for trying to accomplish the goals that helped them get elected, we should be acknowledging the good faith of these actions, as this is one of the few acts that preserve the democratic systems in our country.