Baby's First Government Shutdown

There’s nothing like that special moment when a baby experiences something for the first time in his/her young life. Whether it’s Christmas, a trip to the playground, or meeting his/her sibling- these are times that I’m sure parents will always remember. One of my “firsts” came when I was 13 years old, so my parents don’t have to do the remembering for me. With inspiration from the current state of our government, here is the story of my first government shutdown:


In October of 2013, I was 13 years old and in the 8th grade. I don’t remember exactly where I was when I heard that the government had shut down, but I remember talking about it in my english class. I didn’t even know that the government could shut down, so when it happened I was confused. It kind of felt like a joke, or “fake news” as it would be called in today’s terminology.


My teacher tried to make light of the situation by joking about how when the government shut down the last time, some baseball team had won the World Series. He was hoping that history would repeat itself in the playoffs that year, I suppose. He could’ve been referencing the 1990 shutdown under the Bush administration, the same year the Cincinnati Reds became MLB champs, but that’s besides the point.


So for starters, I didn’t know that a government could just close its doors and shut down. And more than that, I didn’t know the impact that it could have on the public. On a personal level, the shutdown threatened the plans for the annual 8th grade class trip to Washington D.C. that year. As a tween, that was the only part of the shutdown that I was concerned with. And in 13-year-old Claire’s defense, the trip did cost families hundreds of dollars, so I wasn’t being completely selfish, okay?


Anyways, on and after October 1st, 800,000 federal workers were furloughed and 1.3 million had to report to work with no information regarding their next paycheck. While Congressmen and women are guaranteed pay, employees like TSA agents, National Park Rangers, and FBI agents never know when their next paycheck will be on the way.


Luckily for me, the shutdown ended in time for my class to make its regularly-scheduled trip to the capital. I was ecstatic to be in D.C. for the first time, and I loved taking in all the sites like the White House, the Capitol Building (see my professional photography below), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and plenty of museums. While we were there, there were no signs of any shutdown. Everything seemed to be running smoothly, like it had never stopped in the first place. I think I was pretty naive.

Later on I finally tried to educate myself about the shutdown and what it truly meant for our country. With President Barack Obama in the White House, Democrats in the Senate, and Republicans in the House of Representatives, there was an ongoing debate surrounding the  budget and what to do with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). This debate led to the stalemate that resulted in my first ever government shutdown.


Now in the midst of our current government shutdown, I have similar feelings of shock. I wasn’t surprised that it happened. I figured that it should have been expected, rather, given the strong ideological differences between President Trump and members of Congress over the looming border wall debate. The length of the shutdown is the part that stalls me. I can’t believe, day after day, waking up and seeing that the government is still deadlocked. 34 days is a long time (as of Jan 24th). The longest shutdown in American history.