Emil Guillermo: Shutdown exit plan? On the brink of blinkdom.
No doubt, Trump isn’t draining the swamp. He’s demoralizing our country and diminishing our sense of democracy.
So long as we’re not in this thing together, we’re doomed.
My American Filipino friend, a furloughed federal worker, feels stuck.
He’s not making money. And he can’t do some of the work that’s piling up from his regular job–not from home.
“By federal law, I’m prohibited. I’m not allowed to step foot in a federal building,” he told me. “[Nor can I] communicate via my business laptop or phone. There are fines associated with working!”
So he sits and waits for the Trump shutdown madness to end.
He’s got some cushion. He’s not paycheck to paycheck yet like others. But maybe in a month. He never thought a shutdown would last that long when I talked to him a few weeks back. He had hoped for a check by the 26th , the second zero-zero-zero pay period.
But now he’s not sure.
“Yeah, I’m not optimistic anymore,” he said. “It’s hard to know what the benchmarks are. I thought it wouldn’t last into the second lost paycheck. That’s this week. Now, the economic council chair is predicting zero growth for the first quarter.”
He’s hoping that the numbers that matter to Trump will make him feel pain in the same way public servants are feeling it.
Low-growth numbers are one. Low poll numbers, essentially TV ratings, are another Trump understands. And every day, those are sagging to Trump’s lowest ever.
Oddly, what doesn’t phase Trump is how people, government workers, the real backbone of our democracy, are hurting. And losing faith in our country.
It used to be there’d be comfort in being part of something we called the American Middle Class.
We used to take pride in that. And government workers were always at the core of that. As some of my immigrant relatives used to say, the government will never go out of business.
Want to bet?
As the U.S. becomes more like the Philippines with Trump as president of the United States, it’s clear—you’re nothing if you’re not a billionaire.
With Trump, it’s not about IQ, books read, words in your vocabulary, let alone aides or minutes to discuss a major policy decision.
Those things have no value.
He’s all gut and Twitter. Fast and not thought out.
Just like his food choices that have made him fast-food obese.
So all that matters is what’s in your bank account.
You got money. You must be smart. Trump started getting paid as a kid. Robert Reich estimated that if Trump just left his money in index funds instead of doing all his failed ventures throughout his life, he’d be multiple times richer. So having money doesn’t make you smart. But that’s Trump’s belief. You poor? You must be dumber than expired stock certificates. A welfare recipient. You’re not worth the time of day. Or apparently, a little above federal worker.
You’re certainly not worth budging on the temporary government shutdown.
If anything, you’re worth being offered up as a pawn to get what Trump wants, in this case, a $5 billion wall on the U.S. southern border that would have a questionable impact on real security, considering that most illegal activity happens at legal ports of entry.
And there’s really no sign of budging. Not when some government workers who are out of jobs, nearly 1 million of them, are lining up for free food wherever they can.
So when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross goes on cable news, he says workers can get a loan. It’s the sign of the New America.
My friend waits for it all to end before his next mortgage payment, but is not hopeful.
Trump delaying his State of the Union is hardly a blink. Changes nothing.
And the votes on bills this week, specifically the so-called Trump-McConnell Bill involving DACA, appear to be a half-hearted compromise that doesn’t even protect all the people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s not a solution for DACA recipients or those from countries terminated under the Temporary Protected Status program.
It’s Trump Show nonsense that doesn’t really address border security and keeps furloughed workers hostage.
So more pain ahead, as the country spirals.
Sad to say, when the pain is too much, one side will blink.
Unless it’s a tragedy. Air traffic controllers are stressed. FBI agents are stressed. Border Patrol, the Coast Guard, all stressed.
It may take a national calamity to make us all blink at the same time. That’s what usually brings us all together, however briefly.
As this goes on, longer than two zero paycheck periods, we may be at the brink of blinkdom already.
“EMIL AMOK”—COME SEE IT
It’s my one-man theater performance, “Emil Amok: Sex and Affirmative Action” at San Francisco’s Potrero Stage, Jan. 27, Feb. 1, and Feb. 8.
I go amok! Live! If you enjoy reading these pieces, you’ll like the show. And if you can’t make it, invite me to your town, organization, and I will do the show at your school, office, wherever.
Click here to buy tickets: http://playground-sf.org/solofest/
And use my special friends and family promo code: SPF2EG$20