We are exactly where we belong. Not necessarily as individuals, but collectively for sure. The extended partial shutdown of the federal government is the logical conclusion not just to the first (and hopefully only) half of the Trump presidency, but to the past several decades of American history.
The word “partial” is essential to the paradigm. Selective suffering long ago superseded selective service. Our national consciousness and our ability to maintain a level of self-satisfaction well beyond what we deserve is almost entirely dependent upon our sophisticated system of letting others reap what we sow. Some other people are perishing in a wildfire. Some other people are drowning in a flood. Some other people are drinking lead polluted water. We may give a damn, we may give a dollar, but even the best of us are back watching Beyoncé videos on our phones within minutes.
The wars we fight are partial. Some other people are getting ambushed by ISIS. Some other people are getting shot down in a Chinook. Some other people are losing a leg to a landmine. The Oval Office and Congress are filled with draft dodgers who without a second thought pass down privilege to their children so that when it comes time to decide if the country’s going to war it’s not much more stressful than deciding to play Mortal Kombat. The truth is, “we” never go to war, just as “we” never play in the NFL and “we” never wrestle a bear. Some things are just fun to watch.
So the partial government shutdown is a natural fit. We are surviving it fairly well, just as the mainland is still toughing it out rebuilding Puerto Rico. We would pat ourselves on the back if we could put down the Buffalo wings and reach it. Anytime the partial shutdown becomes a little too impartial, we tweak it here, adjust it there so it’s still largely a spectator sport.
Who better to spearhead this farce than Donald J. Trump? Trump, who would fold under questioning so fast Giuliani would weep. Trump, who couldn’t face Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a dark alley. Trump, who fires people through intermediaries and deals with marriage by paying models and porn stars for sex. Trump, who covered his bad business tracks with a series of bankruptcies. Trump, whose epic battles were fought by surrogates named Daddy, Cohn, Pecker, and Cohen.
Three-plus weeks into the highly selective decimation of certain people with certain jobs, the Commander-in-Cheat has the chutzpah to say it doesn’t matter anyway, because these non-entities will eventually get back pay. On a strictly karmic basis, I wish Trump the following: no air for 20 minutes, followed by access to a large oxygen tank; no water for a week, followed by dousing with a cooler full of Gatorade; no food for a year, followed by a wheelie cart full of Wendy’s. That’s right, Donnie—you, too, will be made whole.
What I wish for the American people—myself included—during this shutdown and the next one is no mail delivery, no reliable weather information, no airports, no tax refund checks, no border patrol, no military protection, no Social Security or Medicare payments. What I wish for members of Congress is no pay, no offices, no healthcare, a forfeited pension, and a daily fine of ten thousand dollars.
What I wish for the Koch brothers, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and all the superrich soulless blowhards who prop up their weak psyches every morning by looking in the mirror and telling themselves they made it on their own as a free embryo is complete collapse of the market and their entire portfolio so they can finally crawl into a coal mine or cotton field and learn how tough and resourceful they really are.
What I wish for Vladimir Putin is the Mussolini treatment. This entire spectacle—the quick and efficient refashioning of the United States of America into a banana republic—is, after all, largely of Putin’s making and for his entertainment. I want him to see it upside down, through the urine and feces of his people in his waning moments, hanging next to his bloated orange-haired protégé.
Yes, now more than ever, we need to take the “partial” out of “partial government shutdown.” The ensuing carnage and chaos may not be appealing to the hundreds of millions of people and their leaders whose greatest concern is reliable Wi-Fi and an hour in the hot tub. But at least before meeting our Maker one day we will all be able to say we had some skin in the game.