Opinion: If not empathy, what about some sympathy?


Published: 09-28-2023 6:00 AM

Charles Huckelbury lives in Henniker.

Once again we are needlessly at the precipice of another shutdown of the federal government. And once again the Republicans must assume responsibility because of their childlike intransigence regarding budget issues. Or at least that’s the excuse for attempting to saddle President Biden with the catastrophic impact on those 300,000 men and women who will be furloughed without pay.

Certainly, attention must be given to fiscal responsibility, but less radical means can bring a compromise that will not punish employees who have done nothing but dedicate their professional lives to public service. Where is the empathy? Granted, the House members responsible live comfortably and remain unaffected by their actions. They don’t have to worry about mundane things like paying the monthly mortgage, buying food for the family, or making sure their children have adequate clothing. They have drivers to chauffeur them around the city so are unconcerned about a car payment. Odds are they can’t tell you the cost of a gallon of milk and wouldn’t go inside a Walmart except for a photo op that demonstrated solidarity with their constituents.

So if empathy is out of the question, what about a little sympathy? Can GOP members not feel even a shred of pity for the employees who will be forced to make sacrifices to maintain their standard of living? Unlike, say, the UAW members currently on picket lines, they have no strike fund to compensate for the loss of income. They must either dip into their savings, tighten their belts, or perhaps find a second job to generate income to replace the paychecks they will no longer be receiving.

The founders of the Republic wisely separated the legislative branch into upper and lower houses, the Senate presumably being the more contemplative of the two, while the House indulged the more emotional and self-interested members. Unfortunately, the House was also granted control of the government’s finances. That means that those same self-interests have the power to close down the government whenever the mood strikes them as long as their party wins general elections. The obvious solution is to send more reasonable and empathetic men and women to Washington, members who will place public interest ahead of personal gain and resist the urge to claim their fifteen minutes of fame — or infamy as the case might be.

The federal employees who work on our behalf deserve better treatment than to be sent home without a paycheck and told not to come back until the governing party gets over its latest tantrum. You send a naughty child to his or her room for a timeout. You don’t deprive innocent families of their livelihoods simply to score political points. Keep that in mind as we enter 2024 and have the opportunity to exchange the current face of the House for one truly interested in service to Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill.


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