Who Knew Americans Cared So Much About National Parks?

Just like during the 1995 shutdown, the status of national monuments and landmarks like Yosemite is fodder for a partisan brawl.
Jason Reed/Reuters

Republicans are keeping tourists from the grandeur of Yosemite — on its 123rd birthday, no less. Democrats are preventing World War II veterans from visiting their own memorial. No one, it seems, can agree on if or how to fund the government or who's to blame for the shutdown, but everyone wants credit for defending your right to go to the park.

Thanks to the shutdown, all national parks are closed, and they have become perhaps the foremost example of a dysfunctional government's cost to the average citizen.

At the World War II Memorial, dozens of veterans barged through barriers Tuesday to visit their states' pillars. Among those claiming credit for helping the heroes access their tribute site: Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.Steve King, R-Iowa, and Steven Palazzo, R-Miss. Most Republicans at the site blamed Senate Democrats for the memorial's closure. The National Republican Congressional Committee took it a step further, sending out an email list-building petition that used the veterans to blame Democrats.

Republicans aren't the only ones who have found parks politically potent. "Yosemite National Park is lonely on its 123rd birthday, thanks to the ," tweeted Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. The Democratic Party issued its own blame to the GOP for Yosemite's closure.

As the shutdown fight drags on, it seems likely parks will remain at the center of the battle. The House is set to vote on a bill to restore funding to the national parks, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Senate Democrats seem unlikely to accept any measure except full government funding, so expect another round of the blame game when the House measure dies in the upper chamber.

Presented by

Alex Brown is a technology reporter for National Journal.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In