It took me a few days to mull over what to say about the government shut down beyond a big go f*** yourself to House Republicans. With some breathing, meditation, and a day or two of furlough, here’s the short of it:
I’m a federal employee because I believe that the federal government can create positive social change for all Americans. The entirety of my work over the past seven years as a federal employee has been a daily battle to provide Americans in communities across the country with more rights, more access to health care, and a better quality of life. I’ve taken a lower salary, lived in suboptimal conditions in a city I’m not in love with, and experienced some scary health consequences from the stress of my job. But I believe in the American government and I love being able to contribute to making my country better. That’s it—there’s no other reason I’m in D.C. doing this work.
And I know I’m joined by hundreds of thousands of likeminded civil servants who, like me, believe in the power of many. It’s not complicated to comprehend how we can accomplish so much more for the common good via a centralized state than through corporate structures focused on profit or nonprofit organizations with limited resources. And even though I spend my life trying to change them, I believe society needs an established set of laws and policies to keep bad actors minimized and support the good life most Americans seek. While everyone else is looking out for their family, municipal governments for their own communities, state legislatures for folks within certain borders, the federal government is at work for everyone. It’s not perfect, but it’s our nation’s collective backbone.
So to listen to House Republicans talk over the past few weeks has been difficult—and emotional. It’s been really sad for me to hear them speak so passionately about taking away health benefits from those in our communities that need that access the most. It’s been scary to see them throw women’s reproductive health back into the center of the debate. And it’s been maddening to see them disrespect what it means to be an elected official and, more plainly, a fellow federal employee. I find this new group of Republicans in the House to be arrogant, disingenuous, and lazy. Of course it’s easier to blow things up than build something when there are challenges and you’re not getting everything you want. But that’s the job. I’m hopeful these guys will prove me wrong in the coming days by doing theirs.
The Pleasant Progressive