Government shutdown over for Grand Canyon and other national parks. Can political leaders trying to solve the budget impasse and partial government shutdown take a lesson from the populist push to reopen America’s national parks?
After 11 days of government shutdown theater around America’s national parks, several of the country’s grandest vistas are once again welcoming visitors on Saturday.
Among them: Statue of Liberty National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Zion National Park, Glen Canyon National Monument, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Others, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, may open as soon as next week.
The practical workaround for opening the parks – having private individuals and state treasuries foot the bill instead of the US Treasury, which can’t by law pay ranger salaries for non-essential duties – emerged as a simple, practical antidote against the philosophical and heavily partisan tug-of-war that caused the partial government shutdown and the park closures in the first place.
But the park reopenings, some experts say, are also symbolic of repudiation by regular Americans of Washington gridlock, including Republican leadership as well as President Obama, who many thought seemed intent on holding the nation’s treasures hostage in order to maximize the pain of the shutdown and pin blame on Republicans.