When will the mainstream media start reporting the real story about why Trump is willing to stop the federal government from doing its business? Trump's intentional assault on federal agencies is a direct result of his promise on the campaign trail to "drain the swamp."
On Dec. 22, the Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, Treasury, and the Environmental Protection Agency began a partial government shutdown. Think about it. When has the president shown any of these departments the respect and support that they deserve? In Trump's administration, the Department of Agriculture has been treated as a pawn in a reckless trade war with China. Commerce is a department riddled with controversy and irrelevant to Trump's primary economic goals.
Homeland Security has come under intense fire for its handling of the migrant crisis at the southern border, with Trump himself threatening to fire the director more than once. In fact, he has continuously authorized executive level actions that directly contradict the congressional mandate of the department.
HUD and the Interior are puppet regimes that make no difference to Trump. Although highly controversial, his contest with Justice has been well publicized. Isn't it painfully obvious by now that Trump hates the DOJ? The way he did Tillerson at State should have ended any speculation that Trump is interested in protecting and advancing the conventional protocols of diplomacy. And if ever there was a federal department gutted from the inside out by an incoming U.S. president, it was the EPA in 2016-17.
This list keeps growing.
On Dec. 26, FEMA issued a "stop work" order to all contractors. Since when did Trump care about the operational success of FEMA? This is the same president who went down to Puerto Rico so he could throw paper towels at people who had lost their homes. Trump only shows up to the disaster zone when he is comfortable with the way it will play politically.
On Dec. 27, United Staffing at the Securities and Exchange Commission began to examine how the shutdown impacts reviews of company stock offerings and mergers. Since when has Donald Trump been a fan of the Securities and Exchange Commission?
On Dec. 30, the National Park Service suspended services like trash collection and road maintenance. Since when has Donald Trump been a protector of our nation's wilderness? On the contrary, he is one of the most prolific real estate developers in the world, and an anti-environmentalist pure and simple. As we all know, one of Trump's key reasons for running in 2016 was to reject climate change and to champion the exploitation of coal and natural gas.
On Jan. 2, the Smithsonian and National Zoo closed their doors. What does Donald Trump care? He doesn't go to history museums and zoos are for the commoners. That same day, the National Gallery of Art was closed to the public, but Trump couldn't care less about that too. If it's not a piece of art that he owns in his own office or home, it is worthless to him.
And on Jan. 4, the Interior Department stopped accepting new Freedom of Information Act requests. Just peachy for Trump. That means less snoopers to uncover the facts about his personal life and business dealings. Not a bad move now that the Democrats have retaken the House with impeachment on their minds.
All of this considered, what I want to know is when the mainstream media will pick up on the fact that this shutdown is not entirely about Trump's obsession with building a wall. In a very real sense, this shutdown is about Trump's concerted effort — one that began from the day he started campaigning to be president — to diminish or dissolve major departments within the American government. In a very real sense, the campaign promise that Trump is fulfilling is not his attempt to build a physical wall along the southern border with Mexico, but rather his attempt to substantially dismantle the federal government in general. What would make his extreme Republican base happier?
Given the president's unmasked disdain for these agencies and departments, it should come as no surprise that he would look Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the eyes and say, "If we don't have borer security, we'll shut down the government. I am proud to shut down the government for border security."
George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, social justice activist, domestic violence counselor and adjunct professor of philosophy at SUNY. He graduated from St. John Fisher College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2004.