All of us have been somewhat traumatized by what has happened in Washington; our faith has been shaken. In the past two weeks, for example, I found myself oddly changing the channel when news reports of the shutdown and impending default would come on the car radio while driving my 10-year-old daughter to school. I do this often when stories of murder or violence come on in a futile attempt to prolong her innocence. But unlike stories of mayhem where my reason for censorship is simply a futile desire to protect innocence, my rationale for not wanting my daughter to hear about democracy’s dysfunction is shame. I am ashamed about what has happened to a system of government that I revered at her age. When I was her age (the ponderous phrase of parenthood), America passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, two extremely important pieces of legislation. I still have the post card I wrote my parents from camp celebrating the July passage of the Civil Rights Act.
And what impression is my daughter and her generation getting of the greatest experiment in self-government? When she heard the government was shut, she asked, “isn’t it shut down a lot?” And her summary response to the last few weeks may be as appropriate as that of the troubled stenographer, “Daddy, those people are crazy.”