The government is shut down and our elected officials are being compared to children. Republicans and democrats, some say, are like spoiled brats who just can’t get along. They keep on fighting and never seem to get their way. Nothing is good enough. Nothing is fair.
Perhaps there is a better comparison.
A while back I was at the zoo with my family. Other families were there too. Hundreds of other families. One in particular stood out.
The child was crying. Not the kind of cry a kid does when he gets hurt. It was more like the spoiled brat kind of a cry. The I-Want-My-Way-And-I-Want-It-Now Cry. The kind of cry that doesn’t usually have any tears.
The mother was furious. She was sun burnt and appeared to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown. And that’s when she let out this little masterpiece.
“If you don’t shed up, Ima gonna cut yo foot off.”
Editors Note for Readers Outside of the Southeastern United States: “Shed up” is the southern way of saying, “Please be quiet.”
I’ve heard a lot of parental threats in my lifetime. I’ve even given a few. But the cutting off of one’s foot was a new one for me.
Later on that day, the mother was still sun burnt and a few steps closer to that nervous breakdown. Her child was still giving that same cry. And he still had both feet.
Maybe, instead of comparing our elected officials to spoiled children, it would be more accurate to compare them to parents. Bad parents. Parents on the brink. Parents who have had enough. Parents who make empty, manipulative, scary sounding threats.
Government shutdown sounds scary. As if everyone in the military will have to leave their posts and come home. But in reality, it’s not quite that bad. We just won’t be able to watch the federal government’s panda cam at the National Zoo for the next few days.
Most of the government is still functioning. You are still being spied on. Drones are still flying in American skies. TSA agents are still taking your stuff and humiliating wheelchair bound veterans and teenage girls. NBC is still on the air.
The government and the media call the programs effected by the shutdown, “nonessential.” That is, things we don’t really need. Things we can live without. For once, they tell the truth.
Our founding fathers envisioned a government that focused on keeping citizens safe from tyranny, both foreign and domestic. For them, there was no such thing as nonessential government programs. Why force people to pay for something that is nonessential?
But those kinds of ideas didn’t last very long. So before long we discovered that we want our panda cam, and we want it now. Which takes us back to our comparison.
If many of our elected officials are like bad, manipulative parents, what does that say about us? What does it say about those of us who prefer nonessential government over essential freedoms?
It means that we are the ones who keep on fighting for all of the wrong things.
We are the ones who are never happy.
We are the spoiled brats.