According to a number of reports, Donald Trump’s poll results declined significantly during the government shutdown. Since I cannot fathom why anyone still does support this ridiculous and pathetic man, I’ll leave it to others to mull the implications of those polls.
The shutdown and its aftermath were instructive, however, on a number of dimensions.
First and foremost, it delivered a striking rebuttal to the GOP’s constant refrain that government is never the solution, it’s the problem. A post to Daily Kos noted that the constant media references to 800,000 government employees understated the wider effect of the shutdown: at least 40 million people were affected in one way or another. Many endured long security lines at the airport, and uncertain safety in the air. Others couldn’t get tax questions answered (no one answered the IRS phones).
Businesses that depend upon patronage from government employees have seen steep declines: everything from food trucks at the National Mall to landlords accepting Section 8 vouchers, to cafes and delis accustomed to drawing their lunch crowds from nearby government buildings have seen fewer customers.
It’s not just business. Even anti-government ideologues rely on federal food inspections. Even elderly Fox News viewers expect and need their Social Security checks. Local governments require the dependable remittance of federal program dollars. The list goes on.
The shutdown also exposed a previously unappreciated risk to private companies and not-for-profit organizations that do business with government–or more accurately, do the government’s business. Millions of Americans are effectively government workers due to the terms of outsourcing contracts–what we like to call privatization. (Estimates of the number of people who–although not technically employed by government– work full-time delivering government services run as high as 18 million.) The shutdown idled millions of those contract workers–and unlike employees who actually get their paychecks from government–they won’t be paid for their enforced “vacation.”
And of course, economists are busy calculating the amount of the economic “hit” caused by the shutdown, and estimated to be in the billions.
All of this damage was the consequence of a profoundly stupid demand for a wall that will never be built and would do nothing to deter undocumented immigration or drug traffic if it were.
The voters who still support this President want that wall as a symbol, not a barrier; they want to send a message to folks south of the border. We don’t want your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free–at least not if their skin is brown or black. I am more convinced than ever that Trump’s support comes from people who embrace a mythical American past in which white guys ruled the roost–where women were subservient and dependent, and other men were inferior by definition.
I do wonder how those supporters rationalize away the fact that Trump folded–completely caved–by accepting exactly the deal he’d initially rejected, and that the ignominious end to his bluff was engineered by a highly competent woman.
That last fact is responsible for my shadenfreude.
I think I love Nancy Pelosi.