Things are clearly broken in Washington D.C. It’s been over a month since Lord Trump decreed that he was taking his ball home until he got his border wall money. That means that 800,000 government employees haven’t gotten a paycheck in over a month, and quite a few of them are still being forced to work without pay. A whole host of things have already fallen off the rails as a result of the shutdown, but with no compromise in sight, Lord only knows when they are going to see their lives return to normal.
To say that the situation is fucked up would be putting it mildly. The president and Congress keep getting paid while they try to figure a way out of this, but not the people actually doing the work. Why are these workers bearing the full weight of this impasse? It’s not like they went on strike because this wall isn’t getting built. They aren’t choosing to let their work pile up in their absence either, but the mess will still be theirs to clean up eventually. They just want to get paid for doing their jobs. That’s not such a crazy thing to ask of your employer, even if your employer happens to be the federal government. Unfortunately, the head of that government is currently Donald J. Trump, so societal norms don’t apply.
We need to come up with a way of changing this basketball head’s mind. A great way to get the president’s attention is by broadcasting your message on television. The FCC is in charge of monitoring network television for obscenities, and normally serves up fines when its rules are broken. That agency is also shutdown and not currently pursuing its formal mission. That also leaves a lot of people free to find a way to get on television and let the president know how they really feel about this shutdown.
Whether you work for the FCC or not, if the opportunity to get on live network television arises, make sure to do so and say all the things you aren’t supposed to do and say on television to get the president’s attention. Cuss up a storm and show your bare ass to the camera while you do it! Say something bad about Christianity before making out with another member of the same sex! Say the president has a little dick! Your goal is to piss off the prudish people at the Family Research Council. They love to complain about things like that, and they have friends in high places (and I ain’t talking Jesus) who may be able to apply pressure on the president to reopen the government.
If that doesn’t work, perhaps there is another approach we can take. The president’s claim that this shutdown is about protecting U.S. citizens from danger doesn’t make much sense when the department that is responsible for doing exactly that is subject to the shutdown. One of the great ironies of the shutdown is that it affects the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of both ICE and the TSA. Now our borders, airports and flights are either being protected by no one or people who haven’t been paid in a month. That doesn’t sound safe at all.
If you believe in his reasons for building the wall, then you would understand that this should be Trump’s nightmare scenario, but so far he hasn’t said much about it outside of his usual rhetoric. We need to up the ante if we want this shutdown to end. What we need is for all of the TSA and ICE agents to call in sick at the same time. Trump loves football, so why not do it Super Bowl weekend? Given that they’ve been living off scraps for over a month, it’s entirely possible that these employees will actually be too sick to work by then anyway.
If yelling at him on television, leaving the border and airports unguarded and ruining the Super Bowl don’t convince the president to end the shutdown and start paying people, then I think we only have one option left: stealing. For those of you inclined to “get yours,” you should probably know that, thanks to the shutdown, our good friends at the IRS are currently processing tax returns and refunds, but are not conducting audits. So, if you wanted to cheat on your taxes, now would be a pretty good time to do it!
What a world we live in! I don’t think our forefathers ever thought that we would get ourselves into a mess like this, which is surprising since they were attempting to flee an overly obtrusive monarch when they founded the country to begin with. Alas, here we are, but we don’t have to stay here. Unless this is everything you’ve ever dreamed of, it’s time to use your voice to say enough is enough. How you do it is up to you. Just make sure the president gets the message.
Note: This column was written before Congress and the president agreed on a plan to reopen the federal government for three more weeks while they work on a resolution to the border wall funding issue. Given the inability of the members of Congress or the president to do anything in a timely and constructive manner, and with no alternate plan in place, I suspect that we will be back in this position not too long after you read this. Long live the shutdown!
**This column first appeared in print on page 7 of issue #284 (Jan. 30 – Feb. 13, 2019)**