SETI had already become a privately funded project. Like rocketry, corporations and private citizens were/are taking on the lead.
In some ways this is a good thing, and it’s more than likely that SETI will find another private donor. But as the government pulls out of such projects, it reinforces itself as an organization of the present, committed to the immediate.
In order for this nation to be viable in the future, it must explicitly articulate its role to future generations. Even corporations have mission statements. Humans need an existential answer, and while previously religion served this purpose, nations, too, can offer this in the form of a grand narrative.
But as shown with SETI, “the future” is relegated to private industry, and “the present” to the government. Ultimately, this reinforces the government as a tool of industry, and institutionalizes the culture of short term benefit, of myopia and narcissism. Furthermore, there’s already a pervasive distrust of government and the current narratives, with more than idle speculation that the government is operating at cross purposes with its citizenry.
At a cost of $2.5M a year, SETI should have been maintained, even expanded, if only so that we can point to it and say, “well, it’s all a lot bigger than us.”