That’s not normally seen as anything exceptional or heroic, but in light of the showdown in Washington, perhaps a word of commendation for our local public boards and bodies is in order.
Passionate feelings about programs and the direction of government are admirable, and it’s understandable that different people want to move in different directions. But at the federal level, after dozens of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to challenge it in court or to sabotage it at the state level, it remains the law of the land. There are almost certainly changes that will need to be made to a law with such a huge footprint. It’s even possible the naysayers are right—it might make matters worse. That remains to be seen.
But for those digging in their heels against the law, the desperate tactic of shutting down the government to try to get their way is nothing but a disservice to the people.
The administration’s response has also been less than praiseworthy. Agencies seem to have been instructed to make the shutdown as visible and painful as possible, to make it sting more than it has to. Among the first to feel the sting were staff and students of Head Start programs, and new mothers attempting to sign up for WIC assistance. Government employees were sent home wondering when or if they would be paid. In some cases, barricades were put in place at public parks and monuments, even at some normally open to the public at no charge with no barriers. One report suggests the government is actually spending more money at federal parks to tell the public to leave than would have been spent without the shutdown.
But that didn’t stop a group of World War II veterans on an Honor Flight from Mississippi. On a trip planned for more than a year, they wanted to see the monument recently erected to honor them, but found it barricaded. Nine Congressmen, including Spencer Bachus from Alabama, learned of the situation and went to personally guide them through. That’s commendable, but it didn’t help others wanting to see the monuments and parks the public owns across the nation. Some federal agencies even replaced their websites with home screens blaming the shutdown for someone taking their servers offline.
There’s plenty of blame to spread around for all the public disservice Americans are getting from Washington these days.
It’s quite a contrast to our dedicated government employees and office holders at the local level, who seem to have a better grasp on what public service really means. Their work is appreciated.