“I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I tell the truth wherever I please.”
After 35 days of parsing minutia, arguments over whether “walls work”, and Trump’s first Oval Office prime-time address, the shutdown is over. federal workers are finally going to be paid, food will be inspected, TSA agents will continue being paid poverty wages, and National Parks will be reopened. Crisis averted without caving on funding a 5 billion dollar white supremacist monument on the border of the US and Mexico.
With the end of this saga, national pundits are off to their hot take boxes to try and make sense of the longest government shutdown in history. In right wing media, some are turning on Trump’s inability to impose martial law, turn in all the malefactors hiding children in Pizza parlors, and build a 10 million foot wall made of dragonglass and mythril. Even Ann Coulter, of the desire to lose her right to vote, if only to help Republicans, came out calling Trump a bigger wimp than George HW Bush.
For the most Team Democrat™ liberals, the explanation all rests with Mommy Pelosi, the returned Speaker of the House who won a month long staring contest with our TV Time President. She held the line, they say, keeping her caucus together through an iron will, electric charisma, and by putting a blockade on Trump’s upcoming state of the union.
Both of these explanations elude a core factor in the latest period of legislative brinkmanship: the federal workers. After nearly a month of working without pay, Air Traffic Controllers from New York’s LaGuardia Airport called out of work en made. This work action grounded flights at one of the busiest airports in the country for over two hours. By halting the movement of trade and movement of executive businesspeople, these workers undeniably achieved more in 2 hours what a supposedly organized and fired up liberal political machine could not. Between the LA Teachers’ and La Guardia strikes, there is little doubt that, even in 2019, strikes work.
After risking their jobs for the entire federal workforce, this collection of strategically minded workers deserves nothing but admiration and respect. How, then, are liberal partisans coming together to aid and celebrate these hard hat heroes? Surely, Daily Kos could recreate that moment where they sent 80,000 roses to Nancy Pelosi but for the La Guardia workers, right? What are Bill Sherr and John Aravosis doing? Maybe they can reward these workers by delivering some sandwiches named by Wonkette staffers like “The Obama Olive Loaf” or the “Pelosi Pepperoni Parmesan Melt” (Wonkette, consider this my application.)
Long ago eschewing it’s namesake’s tradition of radical labor activism, Mother Jones magazine has become a host for great sentinels of partisan mediocrity. None of the magazine’s regulars, however, have come out with a perspective more bizarre than that from metastasized Bush era blogger Kevin Drum this week, who wrote about the end of the government shutdown, claiming that “Nancy Pelosi Ended the Shutdown, Not The Air Traffic Controller.”
In his piece, he claims that the actions of the air traffic controllers, which lead to a cascade of work stoppages from La Guardia workers that grounded flights for hours, was of negligible impact. Drum states that there had been negotiations for a continuing resolution to fund the government in the Senate that were being hammered out as the ATCs started their strike. While this continuing resolution bill most certainly existed, the existence of a bill and negotiations does not mean that they will be finalized without political pressure, which the La Guardia strike created. “The real credit belongs, as it always has, to Nancy Pelosi,” states Drum, noting how the Democratic leader “kept her cool.”
By saying “keep her cool”, Drum has reformulated basic tenants of parliamentary democracy into a genius masterstroke. Sticking with the party line when you have the public on your side is the bare minimum we should expect out of the new House majority. While it may seem out of the ordinary for Democrats to not cave within a day of being accused of being in a polyamorous relationship with the heads of MS-13 and the Nation of Islam, we shouldn’t be hiring out sculptors for the giant Nancy and Chuck statues quite yet. This, however, was a much more grounded observation than his next one.
In an attempt to play devil’s advocate, Drum accidentally reveals more about Mother Jones Magazine’s ideological unmooring from its historical roots than Kevin intended. After noting the fact that the ATCs work action highlighted the power of strikes in crucial industries, Kevin really gets to the heart of the matter. “Is his really what we want,” Drum asks, as though labor power being organized to simultaneously fight for all federal workers to get their deserved back pay and force a deal without wall funding is the beginning of an Air Traffic Control centered Junta. Think Pinochet, but with sick multi-monitor setups.
Drum, like a large portion of liberal Bush Era blogosphere figures, seems ill equipped for our current moment. As teachers continue to strike across the country and young journalists attempt to protect their industry through unionization efforts, a new generation of liberals and leftists are eschewing this elitist distrust of labor power, leaving Drum and his ilk waiting with a rose for Nancy.