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The government has been shut down for almost 20 hours now, so why not start thinking about what we’re going to be saying to ourselves after it’s over? I mean, nothing any of us peons out here in the American public can do a thing to resolve this mess, so we might as well start considering what we can do, which is use our power as “the people” (as known from such oldies but goodies as “of the people” and “by the people”) to avoid this type of disaster in the future.

Here are my ideas:

1. Stop putting people who oppose government in charge of the government. Teachers often have varying philosophies on education, but no one would ever hire a teacher who was against education. There are vets use different methods to treat people’s pets, but no one would go to vet who hates animals. Having a diverse array of political philosophies in Washington is super important. But none of those philosophies should be basic disrespect for the very job an official has been elected to fulfill. Of course those people are going to be bad at their job. They intended to be.

I super love this photo.

I super love this photo.

2. Believe candidates’ campaign promises. Remember when all of those people ran on the promise to do everything they could to stand in the way of anything the President wanted to accomplish? Remember when they said they would stop at nothing to repeal a law that was legally passed and ruled constitutional? Remember all of those promises to stop “politics as usual?” Whelp. This is what that looks like. Constant threat of economic catastrophe. Lawmakers acting like middle schoolers. Campaign promises are often so hyperbolic and empty that sometimes it’s easy to forget that they might actually be fulfilled. So it’s important to think about just what the country would look like if a candidate actually did get his or her way, and vote accordingly.

3. Vote for people based on what they are for, not what they are against. Government exists to make our lives better. If a candidate doesn’t believe that, or can’t name a single positive action he or she would take while in office, why put that candidate in office? Why is tearing other people down the go-to policy for winning elections? Didn’t everyone’s mother teach them better?

4. Stop with the apocalyptic reactions to everything, please. Funny, when you allow yourself to believe the world is ending, and elect people who have sold you on that idea, they work really hard to fulfill that prophesy.

Nobody knows how long this shutdown will last, but my best guess is just long enough for people to sign up on the healthcare exchanges and get really excited about their plans. Maybe that’s optimistic. No matter how long it lasts, we should all keep in mind that we are all to blame for this. We did it. This shutdown is of us, by us and for us. That should make us all feel pretty ashamed of ourselves. And we should do better.

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