As Congressmen and women cash their generous paychecks and go home to their comfortable lifestyles, we hope they will feel at least a small pang of guilt for the suffering they have caused.
Among those affected by Washington's inability to craft a workable bipartisan compromise are the women and children and infants who rely on federal financial assistance, nearly a million federal workers who will be furloughed, families of on-duty soldiers who may not see the paychecks they depend on, and the small business owners surrounding the national parks that are now closed. And that doesn't begin to account for the hundreds of thousands of citizens "From California to the New York island, and from the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters" who will be denied access to simple federal services.
This week's shutdown of the federal government is an embarrassment to the entire nation. The people voters sent to represent them in the House and Senate have defaulted on their most basic duty -- to ensure the nation continues to function.
Their colossal failure extends to every community in the country. In Summit County, three Women, Infant and Children Center offices, where local mothers can obtain vouchers for food and baby formula, are now closed. The forest service office in Kamas where families go to buy wood-cutting and camping permits is shut down and other agencies are scrambling to check whether they have any federal grants that may be shortchanged.
And, as far reaching as it is, the government shutdown is not worst of it. Later this month there is concern that the current dysfunctional Congress may fail to raise the debt ceiling, foreclosing on the nation's credit and precipitating an even greater financial crisis that would be felt around the world.
As tempting as it is to point fingers, we the voters must take some responsibility. Too many of us fell under the spell of ideologues on both ends of the spectrum and failed to demand detailed plans of action. We allowed candidates to demonize each other and failed to ask how they planned work together. And this is what we got: a batch of candidates hellbent on obstructing progress and a gang of entrenched incumbents unwilling to compromise.
Sadly, Utah's delegation is part of the problem. We can rail and whine, but we sent them there. Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, along with Reps. Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart, Jason Chaffetz and Jim Matheson have done their districts and the country a grave disservice. If they do show up in town during their self-imposed vacation, we hope their constituents give them an earful. And when it comes time for election season next year, we plan to ask them, why we would ever want to send them back. This land is our land, and they've made a mess of it.