As I write this we approach the 26th day of the partial government shutdown. We’ve had shutdowns before but this is our longest.
This shutdown does not affect all federal employees and is called a “partial shutdown.” But that’s little comfort to those are not being paid. And those who are not being paid are divided into two groups: essential and non-essential.
The non-essential federal employees cannot work and are not being paid. Essential employees must work and are not being paid. So what’s the difference? Good question.
I believe that all federal employees are essential because they serve all of us. In the past few days I’ve suggested that we abandon essential and non-essential and instead use the words safety related and non safety related. This made some sense because employees guard our safety (e.g. the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Transportation Security Administration) and we can’t function without them. But other agencies provide essential services that don’t endanger our safety.
But here’s where it get complicated for our President: as the shutdown continues we’re finding that his base may suffer from his unwillingness to care about the work that our federal employees do. As a candidate he promised to improve the lives of American farmers and by overwhelming numbers they voted for him. But his protectionist policies make their lives more difficult because other nations reduce how much they purchase from us. We can see soybean farmers as an example.
In response to this Mr. Trump allocated subsidies to soybean farmers. Some of them grumbled that they chose farming to grow crops, not to cash checks but I haven’t heard of anyone who refused to cash the checks.
But the government shutdown has meant that farmers aren’t getting their checks.
Today we received word that 2500 federal employees were ordered back to work to ensure these farmers get their checks.
In other words, 2500 federal employees who haven’t been paid since the government shut down are now ordered back to work without pay so that the President can ensure that the minority of Americans who voted for him will continue to receive checks for not farming.
It’s hard to imagine that anything will make him care for the people who work for him and stop pandering to his base.
Seven and a half years ago our neighbors Craig and Alison rang our doorbell with a generous gift. They were walking their dog when they heard a kitten meowing. He was on pitcher’s mound at a little league field on the edge of a canyon at dusk. They recognized that if they didn’t scoop up and save this kitten he would have been eaten by a coyote within minutes. They couldn’t take him home as they have a dog.
They rang our doorbell asking us to keep this kitten overnight and in the morning they could take him to see if he had a microchip that would identify his owner. The next morning Alison drove him to the San Diego Humane Society. Unfortunately they couldn’t check for a microchip and they took him across the street to the San Diego Pound. The pound immediately took control of this kitten for a week, waiting for the owner to claim him. I wrote about this at the time. It was an ordeal but we adopted him and named him Scully after the long time Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully.
Our cat Scully was a good cat. We loved our time with him and both of us appreciated the fact that he liked to sleep on our laps. Last Tuesday Tom woke up and brought in the newspaper. But when he tried to pet Scully on the loveseat he recognized that Scully died during the night. Tom took him to an emergency veterinary clinic where they confirmed that Scully died from a massive stroke.
He died in a sleeping position and that makes us think he didn’t suffer. We miss him terribly but are comforted by the fact that he didn’t suffer or die in pain.
Dear President Trump:
I’m writing to you today to encourage you to give up on the idea of a border wall and reopen government. Two weeks ago government funding stopped for several departments out of dispute over funding your promise to build a wall along our southern border.
All presidential candidates make promises that, once they are elected, recognize they can’t keep. Famously President Obama promised to close the detention center at Guantanamo.
And let’s face it: you have your own broken promises. Eleven times on the campaign trail you promised to jail Hilary Clinton. You also criticized President Obama for playing golf while on the job and promised not to do the same.
I could go on, but that’s not the point. Now that you’re President you need to recognize that building the wall will not stop illegal immigration. It will cost a great deal of money and won’t do what it’s supposed to do.
Simply put, Mr. Trump, we all recognize that this is one campaign promise your base cares about. But your base has never been the majority of Americans and most of us oppose the wall.
You need to stop worrying about losing your base and start leading our nation. And you need to stop making federal employees hostages of your fear. Employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and the United States Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (among others) are currently working without pay. They are praying that they won’t lose their homes, that their credit ratings won’t suffer, and that their children won’t lose necessary services.
Mr. Trump I understand that your corporations have declared bankruptcy at least four times. But all of these bankruptcies were corporate and did not cost you anything personally. No matter what happened to your employees your home in Trump Tower remained safe.
This won’t be true for federal employees who suffer from your fear of losing your base. I pray none of them will need to declare bankruptcy but if they do, you will not pay any price for their pain or their future.
I have no confidence that you will suddenly develop a moral compass but I will never stop praying for the people you are hurting.