By Dee Keshner

We, the Democratic Women’s Coalition of Tuolumne County, are concerned by the ongoing government shutdown as it gradually dismantles our already beleaguered, underserved community.

It is causing harm to government employees and also to the people who support government workers. Most important services are still available but at a reduced capacity. Border security is important to everyone; no one believes that open borders are a good idea. However, there are many ways to achieve the security necessary; many of the ideas are being proposed by those who work at the border and by both parties, including the Democratic Party.

Our local economy depends on the well-being of Yosemite National Park, which daily slips further into neglect as funds to pay National Forest Service staff are withheld. Trash and human waste have flooded the park, poaching and fires are imminent threats, entrance fees are not being collected, vulnerable areas have been closed altogether, and businesses that rely on park traffic are suffering reduced revenues. Volunteer efforts are not enough to sustain the park,

In a region already plagued by hunger and homelessness, SNAP and housing assistance funds threaten to run out within the month. Our unpredictable weather has become harder to manage as data is no longer provided by the National Weather Service, making local forecasts more difficult and inaccurate for all of us, but especially for people in agriculture.

Victims of the Paradise fire are being left to fend for themselves as FEMA runs out of resources. We do not live near the border, but our community has nonetheless been strongly affected by the shutdown crisis.

Polling results vary, but all of them show a strong majority of Americans are opposed to funding the wall. In a Jan 22 poll from Politco-Morning Consult, “72 percent of voters say they oppose putting funding toward a wall even if it’s the only way to end the government shutdown.”*

Regardless of our political affiliation, we feel that we should call on our congressional representatives to open the government, pass the federal budget, and agree to focus on the best solutions for border security in a bipartisan way.

Democrats in the House have brought votes to reopen government agencies, and more Republicans vote in favor each time. Democrats in the Senate have likewise attempted to bring votes on the budget.

We believe the votes necessary to pass it over the president’s objections are there, but only if Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell would permit the matter to go the floor. We must rally together from both sides of the aisle and open a government that works for us all.

Dee Keshner is chairperson of the Democratic Women’s Coalition of Tuolumne County.