IS THIS ANYWAY TO RUN A COUNTRY?

1. It’s Saturday, January 20, 2018.

2. The next inauguration is 1,096 days away. Or at least that’s the current schedule.

3. It’s David Lynch’s 72nd birthday. This is the water. This is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.

Yeah, I’m still sorting through “Twin Peaks: The Return.” That’s probably why I liked it so much.

4. Anyone gleeful that the federal government has shut down is an idiot.

Lots of functions and services that people rely on every day won’t – by Monday – be operating. Some of the people who perform functions and services that continue – I’m thinking right away of our military – might not get paid for them on schedule.

Think of another advanced country in this world where this happens. Keep trying.

It doesn’t. The United States government is the only one that seems to include suicide in its operating manual.

What makes this shutdown amazing is that one party controls the two branches that decide this stuff. The Republicans hold the House and Senate, and they occupy the White House. You would think they’d be able to figure this out among themselves.

5. But the United States isn’t a parliamentary government. The ruling party can’t rule by fiat. It can’t always get what it wants.

God knows, the Republicans tried. They tried desperately to ram through measures that would end the Affordable Care Act. When that failed, they found a way to ram through a tax plan that gutted some of the ACA’s protections.

All the while, they made no effort to get even a modicum of bipartisan support for what they did. There was no effort to include even the shakier Democrats, those from states that generally vote Republicans, who might help them enact their agenda.

Topping it all off is the out-and-out meanness. Trump unilaterally ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, put 800,000 kids – some of whom defend this country or keep its streets safe – at risk of deportation.

The Republicans in Congress let the Children’s Health Insurance Program – a once bipartisan plan to help pay for kids’ healthcare costs – expire.

A Congress and an administration that seems to have forgotten that Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Nearly four months after Hurricane Maria ravished the island, a large percentage of the population is still lacking power and adequate shelter.

Trump and the Republicans were all about the spoils of government. They want the trappings. They want to be able to help their friends and donors.

So, yeah, shutting down the government right now isn’t a great idea.

But the idea that there are people who need the government’s help – and that, in helping them, we make our country stronger, safer and more prosperous – is over their heads. It’s not on the agenda.

6. I’m ashamed to see this shutdown. This is not how a government functions. This is not civilization.

And yet, if I were a Democrat in Congress, I’d have refused to vote for the short-term continuing resolution to fund the government. The put-it-off-for-the-umpteenth-time solution that is truly about waiting for the day that government, as one conservative jackass likes to put it, is small enough to drown in a bathtub.

It’s a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The people are so important that, together, they comprise a government. And that government needs to include and protect all of the people who comprise it.

Yes, that includes the DACA kids. Yes, that includes the kids who get health care benefits. Si, that includes the people of Puerto Rico.

The problems don’t wait. Congress shouldn’t wait, either. Trump and the Republicans created this mess. They should help fix it – and if it takes a shutdown to do it, that’s the sad truth.

 

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