At this point, our federal government is at an impasse. President Donald Trump has painted himself into a corner where reopening the government without securing $5 billion for a border wall would be viewed by the general public, his own party, and quite probably himself, as a massive policy failure. It would empower Democrats in advance of the upcoming 2020 presidential election and severely weaken Trump's reputation with his own base.

Meanwhile, the Democrats can't budge on the wall, either. It's a lot of money for a problem most don't believe exists (or, at least, don't believe will be solved by funding a border wall) and, as the first major act since retaking control of the House of Representatives, caving to Trump's wall demand would signal to Americans that the Democrats can't stand up to Trump. Standing up to Trump has been the Democrats' primary campaign promise for the past two years.

You can make up your own mind on who to blame for the shutdown. We'll just take Trump at his word, since he's claimed it's his shutdown and threatened to extend it for months or years if he doesn't get his way.

While the political maelstrom continues to swirl, it is, of course, hurting the people Trump, Republicans and Democrats are ostensibly in Washington, D.C. to represent. Not just the 800,000 federal employees who are going to miss their second consecutive payday and are picking up second jobs, borrowing money and struggling to figure out how to feed their families; but also millions of Americans who rely on the programs the federal government funds for everything from food safety to housing assistance.

Creating a domestic crisis in an attempt (furtive or otherwise) to solve some other crisis (real, imagined, or of your own creation) might make sense from a political perspective, but it's a terrible way to govern. There is a legislative process in place that has worked with varying degrees of success over the past 242 years or so, and it's the one we elected (and continue to pay) these people to use. If Trump can't get a border wall through normal legislative means, he shouldn't be able to get one. That's the way this country works. Republicans bemoaned former President Barack Obama's liberal use of executive orders, but Trump using emergency powers to fund a massive border wall is a legitimate option? Please. The kind of mental gymnastics you would need to employ to embrace that level of cognitive dissonance is breathtaking.

Open the government, get people paid for the work they're doing, get the rest back to work, end this expensive shutdown (it's actually more expensive for the federal government to be closed than open; sorry, Ron Swanson) and use our existing legislative system to fund, or not fund, public infrastructure projects/border security.

Please, stop this political merry-go-round. Our world is spinning.

This Week's Circulars