I hate to interrupt an indulgent festival of angst, but the parade of voices lamenting this period of government shutdown just cries out for a rebuttal.
First, let’s stipulate that anyone enduring general hardship during these days-- a furloughed worker, an underserved citizen, a family with rattled vacation plans-- deserves our genuine empathy.
That said, can we please dispense with the drama better suited for an asteroid hurtling toward the earth?
From Monday’s goofy “shutdown clocks” ticking off the seconds to anarchic Armageddon, to the litany of analysts over-hyping the negatives of the standoff, the overreactions have been tailored by, and for, people for whom government is a sacrament and its interruption a sin.
The truth is somewhat calmer, and actually has some redeeming elements.
First, the conservative’s easy quip: any shutdown reveals just how much of government is truly “non-essential,” accentuating how wildly it has ballooned beyond the founders’ intent.
And the one-liner of record: the only thing wrong with government shutdowns is someone invariably opens it up again.
But beyond the glibness, there is a valuable civics lesson here for those willing to step out of needless panic mode.
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria called the whole chapter an exercise in “stupid government,” without suggesting which side should smarten up and cave on its core beliefs. One might hazard a guess based on his other journalistic moment of the week, an interview with National Security Advisor Susan Rice without one mention of Benghazi.
But media bias aside, the public itself needs to see what is on display here.
It is not so much “dysfunction,” as every headline proclaims to a nodding public. It is actually the precise result you get when everyone actually sticks to principle.
ABC interviewed a busload of middle school students buzzing from monument to monument before they all closed their doors Monday.
“I think it’s very disappointing to me,” said one, “because it’s kind of sending the message that government cares more about their parties... than they do us, the American people.”
Ah, sixth grade. But I am restrained from any observation about youthful folly, because millions of adults agree with this kid.