It's Day Two of the government shutdown, and the lesson of the day is that if you have been adversely affected by the closure of government agencies and the furloughing of personnel, the only way you are going to get heard is to go down to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. That's where all the reporters and grandstanding members of Congress are, so that's where you'll have to go.
See, Washington is dotted with stone obelisks and statuary which pay tribute to national nostalgia and will be a lovely set of ruins in about seven decades or so for whatever creatures come after us to gaze upon in stoic reflection. One of these monuments is dedicated to memorializing those who fought in the Second World War, and yesterday, as a result of the government shutdown, this monument was closed to the public.
But a lot of people showed up to tour the memorial anyway. So, with the help of some publicity-hungry members of Congress, they "stormed the barricade," which is a fancy way of saying they just entered the monument anyway. It's not like there was some sort of massive effort undertaken to stop them. As Hunter Walker reported for TPM, police officers were on the scene but making no effort to impede anyone. And so it came to pass that the World War II Memorial became the sexy locus of the government shutdown story. It helped that the World War II Memorial was located within walking distance of most reporters' desks.
Of course, the government shutdown is affecting people and government services in all 50 states. Many people woke up to a new reality in which they didn't know how they would buy food and pay rent. Two million Americans will have their paychecks, at the very least, delayed. Some are facing the possibility of not getting paid at all.
Outside the public sector, small businesses have been impacted. Also, the Centers For Disease Control will be "unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program," will have to curtail "support to state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance," and will have "significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center."
The NIH Clinical Center will be forced to turn away "200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center into clinical trials each week," including 30 children, "most of them cancer patients."
The only advice I can offer all of these people affected in these ways, and others, is that you'd better find a way to get to the World War II Memorial. Otherwise, you don't actually "count" as a victim of the government shutdown.
The outsized hype over what's been going on at the World War II Memorial is highly reminiscent of the whole spate of post-sequestration stories that involved the cancellation of White House Tours. In both instances, the media seized on one of the least important after-effects of a government convulsion, and gave it hyper-inflated significance. Which is weird, because the closure of a memorial or the suspension of a White House Tour doesn't even rise to the level at which you denote it as a "problem." They are inconveniences, at best.
And the hyper-intense focus on a few trivial inconveniences -- over and above the widespread hardship that both the sequestration meted out then, and the government shutdown is meting out now, to ordinary Americans -- has a toxic effect on the way these things are covered. It's still very popular to declare that the sequestration is no big deal. And it's becoming popular to call the government shutdown a mere "government slimdown."
What to do about it? Well, my understanding is that the process by which one would propose the building of a National Monument To Kids With Cancer Who Are Being Turned Away From Treatment Because Of The 2013 Government Shutdown is a long ordeal that involves obtaining a bunch of necessary permits and then raising a lot of money. So, there probably isn't enough time to erect such a monument, and there's no guarantee that there is any land available adjacent to Beltway reporters and grandstanding Members Of Congress. So, as a stop gap, I'm afraid that everyone affected by the shutdown is simply going to have to come to the World War II Memorial and temporarily repurpose it.
I guess if you can't make it to Washington -- and if you've been furloughed, this is understandable -- you should just find some monument or park that's been shut down in your hometown, break in, and just stay there until reporters show up. But I would encourage anyone who can to just come on down to the World War II Memorial and occupy it for the duration.
In fact, Good Jobs Nation, which represents low-wage workers affected by the government shutdown, had been planning on sending people to the Longworth Building to be heard today. But they've figured out that if they do that, they may as well sit at home. So instead, they are off to the World War II Memorial, because that's where the reporters and grandstanding members of Congress are. Those who have been impacted by the shutdown should just follow their example, and turn the World War II Memorial into one huge Bazaar of Shutdown Suffering.
I guess if you can't get reporters to leave The Bubble, you've got to come to The Bubble yourself. On the bright side, we'll have decent weather through the weekend.
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