We all remember the tin woodsman and the scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz,” right?: One lamented that he had no heart; the other that he had no brain. Each had the wisdom, however, to acknowledge the deficit and wish for improvement.
We have now an occupant of the White House in Washington, D.C., and more important, in the office of president of our country, a man who also has no heart and no brain, but fails to recognize the deficit — or to care about it. How else can we explain his failure to acknowledge the hardship that he is inflicting on 800,000 people who work for the federal government — work for us as taxpayers — but currently, and for the foreseeable future, will get no pay? How else can we explain that he-who-must-not-be-named fails to acknowledge that those citizens, taxpayers, who work in government will encounter enormous difficulties paying their bills, purchasing essential goods and services — for example, food, shelter, fuel for heat in winter, medical bills, loans, etc. — while they contribute to the well-being of our society? How else can we explain that this man has no sympathy for difficulties we as residents, citizens, and taxpayer have to endure while he holds the government hostage to his fantasy that a wall — a mere wall — will solve problems that are more complex than he can or will acknowledge and comprehend?
The president says he has not heard federal workers complaining about the shutdown (partial or not is irrelevant) of the government. Of course not! First of all, he isn’t listening or even asking, Second, government workers are forbidden by law (Hatch Act) from participating in partisan political activity; and who knows how this administration would interpret the first amendment rights of citizens in this context? Third, he said that probably most of them are Democrats. What difference does, should, or would that make? Federal employees have the right to vote, the right of free speech, the right of association, just like the rest of us. They know that they sometimes work for a Republican administration, sometime for a Democratic administration — but they do their job day-to-day without regard to political party.
I know this because my son is a federal employee: a park ranger at the Grand Canyon; so is his wife. They did not resign their commissions because a Republican was elected; they do their duty, protecting visitors from harming themselves or the precious natural landmark where they are stationed, regardless of political party — theirs or the president’s.
The resident of the White House needs to hear from us — the taxpayers, citizens and residents of this country, the families and friends of federal workers, who are watching our friends and family members struggle with no income and no end in sight for compensation for their work and commitment to our well-being — what he refuses to hear from his advisers or the members of his political party in Congress. Republicans in Congress are failing their constituents — all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them—just as much as is the resident of the White House.
We need to remind these people that they should use their hearts and brains — if they have them — and perhaps even exercise courage — if they have any—to restore order and orderliness to our political system.
Michael Sherman is a Montpelier resident.