I don’t have any idea how long the government shutdown will last, and I don’t have any idea how it will end. Neither do the people who have the power to end it. But as it works its way into the fabric of our daily lives, affecting more and more elements it’s going to have unintended consequences that will be permanent.
It’s all because of a wild-eyed campaign promise that started out as some kind of mnemonic about immigration that turned into a real thing. It’s like Herbert Hoover and the Republicans in 1928 demanding that there really will be a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage and by golly, we’re shutting down the government until those chickens and cars are in their places. It is just as ridiculous to promise a wall along the 2,000 miles of the southern border and betting your entire political legacy on it.
No one — least of all Trump — knows what he really meant, and it’s clear that this tantrum that has morphed into hardships for the people directly affected and creating ripples beyond their zero-sum paychecks — if they’re not getting paid, they’re not buying groceries or paying their bills and that hits the merchants and the landlords and so on — and now the good folks at the IRS may not be processing tax refunds upon which a lot of people count on as a boost in their income during the bill-paying months after Christmas (hi there!). And it may even reach into the public schools, where kids who count on being fed breakfast and lunch to supplement their diets may lose out on free or reduced meals because the school district can’t put up the funds to pay for the program on their own.
But as long as Trump believes this is the only way to win and he’s being egged on by sycophants and his maniacal base, this situation will continue until he figures out a way to cave and make it look like he’s won. It will be something along the lines of “I allowed the shutdown to end because I know the terrible burden it’s placing on the people who depend on the invaluable services the government provides! I alone can save them!” Fox News will hail him as the hero of the working class, he’ll demonize the Democrats as obstructionists, and campaign in 2020 as if he was the one who saved America.
Now, about those chickens…