The visual that federal employees are having to use food pantries will be the lasting image of President Donald Trump’s partial government shutdown, now in its second month and showing no signs of resolution.
And, make no mistake, this is President Trump’s shutdown. He said so with the cameras rolling with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a meeting at the White House. He owned it then. He owns it now.
“If we don’t get what we want one way or the other … I will shut down the government, absolutely,” Trump said to Pelosi and Schumer during the Oval Office showdown. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security … So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it … I will take the mantle of shutting down. And I’m going to shut it down for border security.”
And, of course, he has since blamed Pelosi and Schumer for the shutdown in tweets and other public comments.
We’ve been encouraged by the number of businesses that have rallied for federal employees affected on the Island, specifically the Coast Guard members who protect our coastline at Station Menemsha.
J.B. Blau is offering credit at his Island restaurants. Trader Fred’s doing the same for the goods sold at his store. Vineyard Grocer is also helping out, while Mocha Mott’s offers free coffee. And the Patriot Boats are providing free rides across the Sound. Banks like Martha’s Vineyard Bank and Cape Cod 5 are doing their part by either suspending loan payments for Coasties or offering bridge loans to help them get through this period.
And now the police and fire departments in Edgartown are collecting gift cards for Coast Guard members. Cards of $20 or less are being accepted for gas, Stop & Shop, Walmart, and CVS. “It is our turn to help them and their families who have no income during the partial government shutdown,” the Facebook post from the Edgartown Police Department states.
What’s not so encouraging is that President Trump seems willing to dig his heels in. He offered a deal on Saturday that he knew wasn’t going to fly, offering temporary protection for so-called Dreamers against deportation in exchange for the $5.7 billion to build a wall along the southern border of the U.S. — disingenuous, given that Dreamers are already protected thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He told the American people during his campaign for president that the wall would be built and Mexico would pay for it. Now he says, of course, he didn’t mean Mexico would write a check, even though, like ownership of the government shutdown, he said that on tape (and it was written on his campaign website).
When will Trump’s supporters hold him accountable for these egregious lies? Instead, they say all politicians lie, as if that should let him off the hook. Recent polls are promising that even his base is having a tough time supporting the shutdown.
Trump had two full years of a House and Senate controlled by the Republican party. During that time, he was unable to get support for the wall. What makes him think after losing the House in the midterm elections that he’s ever going to convince Pelosi and Schumer to support the wall?
What’s the endgame, President Trump?
The pettiness of both parties is out of control. Pelosi telling Trump that he’s not welcome to give his State of the Union address before Congress. Trump canceling a trip planned by Pelosi and other congressional leaders to Afghanistan aboard a military plane.
Trump’s rhetoric about liberal Democrats wanting open borders is absurd and insulting. Democrats have long advocated for sensible immigration reform, and in fact in December agreed on a bill with wide bipartisan support that Trump looked ready to sign until a far-right faction convinced him to dig in his heels on the wall.
Pelosi and Schumer can’t cave. It would set a dangerous precedent to allow the government to be held hostage by a president looking to get his way.
It’s time for the president and his supporters to realize that this is a losing proposition, and the people getting hurt are people who proudly serve their country. That’s not right.
End the shutdown. Open the government. And stop using American government workers as pawns in this stalemate.