The Great Shutdown of Feb 15, 2019
The Great American Hostage Ceremony has recently ended with a stalemate. Donald Trump didn’t get his wall. Nancy Polosi stomped all over Donald Trump’s crotch.
Price tag? $11 billion. The shutdown ran 35 days and as far as I’m concerned it was twenty days too long.
Worst, it was damaging to the standing of the United States in the eyes of our national peers.
It was demoralizing to the American public, to watch their government reflect their indifference to the suffering of their constituents.
It was disheartening to an America rocked and shaken to its foundations by a host of natural disasters, floods, fires, super-storms, hurricanes, polar vortex and now Congressional indifference, coupled with executive ennui.
Watching Donald Trump turn tail and run? Priceless.
Looks like no one gives a damn about the people though. We’re not rich enough, I guess. To the 4.1 million government contractors who have not been guaranteed any money after the shutdown, whose businesses may have suffered, whose homes may have been put at risk, whose children may not have eaten, whose livelihoods were affected, whose health may have been compromised because it was choose to eat or to have medicine. To the hundred and twenty million other people affected tangentially by the shutdown, the tenants of HUD housing, the recipients of SNAP, the businesses relying on government workers to dutifully appear, rain or shine, to support your businesses, too, I feel your pain. I recognize the challenges you have faced.
And like you, I am both terrified and furious our government was unable to resolve this issue until the Superbowl was threatened.
Or until air traffic controllers mentioned: “We can’t guarantee your safety when we are delirious with hungry, made desperate by deprivation, and dumbfounded by your inability to recognize we hold your lives in our stressed, hypertensive, diabetic-trembling hands.”
My advice: Do whatever it takes to prepare. How one prepares to be for months without an income is completely incomprehensible. But this is what Donald Trump wants you to consider before he takes you hostage again.
“This is a great nation you’ve got going here. Be a shamed if something happened to it.” The gunsel and his cronies knock over $11 billion dollars worth of merchandise across the nation, on their way out the door. Before he disappears into the shadows, he points at his eyes and then at yours. Then an armored, stretch limo pulls away.
Like a natural disaster, this shutdown appears almost unavoidable because Donald Trump isn’t a master negotiator as we had been lead to believe (mostly by him) but troubled toddler, thrashing around having a tantrum, screaming louder and more petulantly the longer we indulged him.
Like the polar vortex which paralyzed 220 million Americans, Donald Trump’s next slow-moving natural disaster could take more than $11 billion out of the national coffers and gross domestic product. Unless someone becomes a whole lot smarter in the next month and a half, Donald Trump has all but assured us, “unless they’re funding the wall, the nation will fall.”
Okay. maybe he didn’t say that. Maybe I did. Am I wrong?
Seriously, the problem lies in the threat: If there is no way to stop him from shutting down the government and no laws can be enacted which prevent him from harming American citizens because, well, Congress has no metaphorical balls, what’s to stop him from taking America hostage again?
What happens when he doesn’t get a wall, or whatever the next monument to his vanity might be?
This is a question underlying how we are doing politics a nation. Do we allow the president to extort his way through the office while the nation suffers economic collapse because of his vanity, mendacity or madness? Are we prisoners to his inability to make up his mind, learn the issues, or recover from choking on his own rhetoric whenever someone calls him on his bullshit?
This is Terrorism 101. If a terrorist knows he can get what he wants if he takes a hostage, when you see him again, he will take another hostage. If you want terrorists to recognize this tactic has no value, you have to either be willing to kill the hostages yourself, or you have to kill the terrorist faster, preempting his efforts at taking hostages in the first place.
For this government, it means creating legislation, a binding series of documents and policies which prevents the executive branch from holding the nation hostage for political gains or partisan issues. How that will be defined clearly is anyone’s guess, but it MUST happen.
Otherwise on February 15, 2019, Donald Trump will take the nation hostage again and this time, he won’t stop until the nation catches fire and burns to the ground, because he appears to be just that unstable…
God help us all.
Is that what we’re supposed to say when an asteroid, alien invasion fleet or Godzilla is about to land on your country? How did it become synonymous with the American President? Why hasn’t anyone done something about it?
God help us, all of us. Hurry.
He is also the Cognitive Dissident, living in desolation, a disillusioned, and despondent essayist who has lost all hope in the improvement of the human species. But, somehow, despite it all, he still remains defiantly hopeful humanity may still escape the Sword of Damocles.
He is also a freelance journalist for Polygon.com and Panel & Frame magazine. Thaddeus is the co-founder of Futura Science Fiction Magazine and one of the founding members of the Afrosurreal Writers Workshop in Oakland.