A few takeaways from the longest federal shutdown in US history.

  1. Contrary to what Trump seemed to think when he proudly decided to shut down several branches of the federal government, federal workers are not all card-carrying Democrats. They do not all live and work in Washington, DC. They do not all eat crumpets at their desk from 9 to 5 every day. Many live paycheck to paycheck and are affected by the shutdown in hideous ways. Some face eviction because they cannot pay their rent or mortgage. Some have to skip medications. Some accumulate credit card debt they can ill afford to repay. They are members of the Coast Guard, the Department of Justice (including the FBI), TSA screeners, Weather Service people and Park Rangers…. They may live in Kansas or Montana. If this crisis has made one thing clear, it is that….
  2. The age-old Republican aim of “starving the beast”, i.e. deprive the federal government of funds in order to shrink its size, is a non-starter. What the American public needs is NOT NECESSARILY LESS GOVERNMENT, BUT BETTER GOVERNANCE.
  3. The stock market is not the economy. Unemployment statistics do not tell the whole story. The shutdown has revealed an economy where a large proportion of Americans who see themselves as “middle class”, whatever that has come to mean, have very little savings set aside and can be pushed into insolvency by a serious medical emergency.
  4. The federal shutdown affects more than federal workers. Ripples are felt throughout the economy, from soybean farmers in Iowa to restaurant owners in Washington. Federal contractors have trouble paying or retaining their workers. The private sector suffers as well.
  5. No matter how tempting it may be to say “a pox on both your houses”, there is a difference between the approaches of the Democratic and the Republican parties. Republicans led by Trump would have you believe that Democrats want “open borders” and they want to abolish ICE without replacing it with something better. These are slogans designed to excite their base. Trump’s visit to Texas showed how holes can be cut through barriers and how tunnels can be dug under walls. The Democrats want solutions that make sense and take into account conditions on the ground. It makes no sense to use eminent domain to wrest land from its owners along the Rio Grande, for instance. Democrats want to stop the current administration’s inhumane policies towards asylum seekers, which often violate international rules.
  6. How absurd is this? In order to theoretically make us safer in the future with his great big Wall (which most Americans do not want to pay for, given the fact that Mexico demurs….) Trump makes us less safe in the present. TSA workers and flight controllers are going unpaid and some are calling in sick, creating unsafe conditions at airports. Federal courts are running out of funds. The FBI has to postpone operations, etc…. This is dangerous. In conclusion, America, sorry to have to say, but Trump is just not that into you…. (Doh!)

Disclaimer: this is Marie-Anne’s rant. She has been known to occasionally get something wrong. If that is the case, she takes full responsibility. End of hyperventilation – for now.

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