I have been spending a lot of time during this shutdown archiving my photos. I have two pictures that are relevant to this post of my colleagues during two shutdowns. The first one was taken on October 14, 2013, about two weeks into the October 2013 16-day shutdown, at a brew pub. The second was taken January 18, nearly 4 weeks into the current shutdown. In the first picture, everyone is smiling. In the second picture, everyone is looking very grim. Why the difference?
First, there were environmental differences — the 2013 photo was taken in the patio, in one of those classic beautiful sparkling October days — brilliant sun, comfortable temperature. It was at a brew pub, and some people are holding beer mugs or wine glasses. In contrast, the 2019 photo was taken in the middle of January, with everyone cooped up inside. Nobody was drinking.
Second, at that point, the 2019 shutdown was twice as long as the 2013 shutdown. Everyone had missed their first paycheck (maybe why nobody ordered drinks).
Third, and probably most importantly, in 2013, there was an end in the shutdown in sight. Later that week, the debt ceiling would be reached, so Congress needed to vote on raising the debt ceiling; it was expected that the shutdown would also end. Indeed, that is what happened. The shutdown was caused by some hard-line Republicans in the House of Representative insisting on eliminating funding for implementing Obamacare. The Senate, the President, and most Congressional Representatives didn’t want the shutdown. The hard-liners caved, and everyone went back to work.
By contrast, without getting into the politics, there is no end in sight. There are glimmers of hope — tomorrow, the Senate will vote on two bills with the potential for ending the shutdown. However, either bill needs 60 votes to move forward. If both bills fail, we’re back on square one. I think there is a sense of despair — when will this insanity end?!