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October 21, 2013 - Stephen Browne
Well the government shutdown is over, boy am I glad all that anarchy in the streets is over and we can start picking up the pieces of our ravaged civilization!
Well actually 83 percent of the government never shut down, and most everybody never really noticed anything was different, except for tourists wanting to visit national monuments. And as it turns out, the government actually spent more money shutting down things like unmanned open air monuments and parking spaces than it would have cost to simply let them stay open.
But nevertheless the government financial crisis is over, hoorah!
Well actually it’s not over, it’s postponed. For a few months. But our credit card limit has been raised yet again and who knows maybe something will turn up. Maybe we’ll win the lottery or something.
Obama rejected several Republican plans to fund the government that didn’t include Obamacare. Republicans didn’t stick to their guns on the point of delaying Obamacare. Like that was a surprise.
The shutdown itself wasn’t a surprise. Government has been “shut down” 80-odd times before in different administrations with minimal effect.
But this time Obama played hard ball, “So you want a shut down? Let’s shut it down!”
Tactically it was brilliant. The administration had unstaffed open air monuments barricaded and scenic turnoff parking lots closed with traffic cones. By the time the Republicans caved, their popularity was on par with the strep throat that’s been going around.
But something happened this time, something jaw-dropping. We saw veterans led by 90-year-old World War II vets storming the barricades of the World War II monument and tearing them down. Then for good measure they pushed through the ones around the Lincoln Memorial to one side and strolled in past cops in riot gear who didn’t dare lay a hand on them.
Understand something. It’s easy to get students to demonstrate, easy to turn the demonstration into a riot. You don’t really need a cause, just an excuse, young people are like that. When I was a kid I’d throw a rock at a tank. I knew for a fact I was immortal, and I strongly suspected I was invulnerable.
But when middle-aged middle-class people with jobs and families start to demonstrate, as in the TEA Party demonstrations that started a few years ago, something serious is happening.
However people with jobs don’t riot. In the wake of the TEA Party demonstrations there was literally nothing left behind. No litter, no property damage.
This speaks well of the demonstrators, but also made it easy to ignore them once they were gone. But only for a while.
I saw this in the late ‘90s when I was living in Belgrade during the nightly demonstrations against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. The first night I arrived I saw lots of young people, of course. They were making noise with a variety of home-made instruments such as pop bottles with coins, PVC pipe horns and plain old pots and pans during the “pandemonium half-hour” when the government news broadcast was on.
Then in the middle of this I saw an elegantly dressed lady with a fox fur stole walk up to a dumpster, take a small hammer out of her purse, and start pounding on the dumpster!
Then a little old woman dressed in the babushka style familiar in all the Slavic lands walked by with a bent-over shuffling gait banging on a metal pot with a spoon.
Now inter-generational demonstrations have come to America.
What does it mean? I haven’t a clue. If I did, I’d be writing a book about it.
But I am sure of one thing. This is just the beginning of... something.
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