As we face our third government shutdown under unified GOP control, a lot of people will be impacted. Veterans who depend on disability checks are always in danger of not getting paid during a shutdown. Some non-essential government employees will be forced home without pay, and aren’t guaranteed back pay.
The worst impact, at least immediately, will be on federal contractors. I know many, because I used to be one for almost 20 years. The problem with a shutdown is that these employees work for private businesses, not the federal government, so they are not eligible for back pay in the same way as federal employees. Some contractors, for example, might be forced to use paid vacation or sick time to make up for days they can’t work during a shutdown (if that’s available to them to begin with).
Thus, many of them simply won’t get paid, and they have no chance of getting back pay when the government reopens. Some firms have contingency plans for temporary work in such an event, but many don’t. They simply tell their employees that they will be furloughed in the event of a shutdown. Unfortunately, that has already happened to many today.
One such furloughed contractor, whom I know well, is furious. He hates Trump and blames him. (He’s not wrong.) Although he’s a life-long conservative, he’s a good guy with a family, and I hate to see him suffer over the holidays.
He didn’t vote for Trump, but this past election cycle—as with all other elections—he voted straight-down the line for the GOP. As he tells me, he is “fiscally conservative” and felt obligated to support men like Marco Rubio and Rick Scott: “I vote Republican, but I hate Trump.”
I have to be honest—I don’t want to see him suffer, but I have very little empathy. Trump is horrible, but he’s one man. There are 100 people in the Senate and less than 10 want a shutdown over Trump’s impractical but extremely expensive vanity project.
Here's the thing: Republicans know that Trump’s wall obsession is stupid, and they know that Americans will be seriously hurt with a prolonged shutdown. Yet they can’t stand up to him. At least Trump has an excuse for his destructive behavior: He’s a mentally-deranged, narcissistic sociopath. But the Republican legislators? They are much worse. They’re just cowards—all of them.
And yet my friend voted to put them in office. His livelihood now depends on how much sanity the people he always votes against can extract from those cowards who can never be counted on to do their job.
You can’t say you are against a psychotic murderer, then hand him a knife, and decry all of the stabbings. You can’t say you are against Trump, then give him varying levels of sycophants who either justify his cruelty against his own people or just sheepishly refuse to stand in his way. Even as terms like “baby jails,” “Russian asset,” “fake news,” and ”hurricane denialism” have entered our lexicon, Republicans did absolutely nothing. Trump truly feels he can get away with murder.
If he’s willing to rip a baby from a nursing mother, put her in a baby jail, and then threaten to put her in foster care just to get his way, I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to lose sleep over contractors losing a paycheck or two. He’s always been a monster, but this is a time when my friend is really on the receiving end. But whether you vote for Trump or vote for his enablers, either way, you are helping him.
In researching this post, I came across a recent viral tweet storm by Charlotte Clymer. She had several tweets in a long, cohesive rant about a recent encounter at a Christmas party. I linked to her feed so you can see them all, but I copied and compiled a few:
Last night, I was at a Christmas party, and this nice gentleman struck up a conversation with me. Asked what I do. I told him. He said he works in the Trump administration. He then says: “I vote Republican, but I'm socially liberal.” Let's discuss this for a second.
If you support a party that is anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman and xenophobic and white supremacist because you think your taxes are too high, you are not “socially liberal.”
If you support a party led by a coward who defends kidnapping children away from their parents and locking them in oversized dog kennels, you are not “socially liberal.”
If you have a friend or relative who is LGBTQ, whom you love and with whom you get along, but you support a party that openly and viciously calls for discrimination against LGBTQ people, you are not “socially liberal.”If you love watching “Queer Eye” and “RuPaul's Drag Race,” but you support a party that says trans people should be banned from the military and LGBTQ children should suffer the abuse of “conversion therapy,” you are not “socially liberal.”
If you “have a black friend” but support a party that blatantly defends the harassment, assault, and murder of people of color in this country by our law enforcement and disenfranchises them at the polls and mocks their advocacy, you are not “socially liberal.”
If you need three dozen women to come forward about their encounters of sexual harassment, assault, and rape by an elected official—let alone a “president”—before you'll consider that even one woman is telling the truth, you are not “socially liberal.”
If you support fiscal policies that have drastic sociopolitical consequences for the most vulnerable people in our country–regardless of background–you are not “socially liberal.”
And if you're like the gentleman last night who copped out with “Well, I'm actually a libertarian” because that is somehow meant to encapsulate sympathy for my plight without bearing responsibility for complicity in the machinations that create it, you are an enormous asshole.