Voices From The Government Shutdown

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What do you do if you live in Washington, D.C. in the midst of a federal government shutdown that leaves 800,000 people out of work and affects millions of others? If you’re Sean Carman, a writer, environmental lawyer, and longtime Rumpus contributor, you take to the streets and interview the residents whose lives have been at a standstill for the past two weeks.

Voices From The Government Shutdown,” Carman’s column at McSweeney’s, captures the stories of a variety of federal employees, from aviation workers to NASA astrophysicists to employees of the McDonald’s at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. While the government’s officially back up and running, Carman’s collection of testimonials and interview material reminds us that this is something that happened on a deeply human and very emotional level.

From the first interview:

How do I feel about the shutdown? What can I tell you? It makes me angry. Because I’m thinking, “How will I pay the bills next month?” I’m not making any money now. The museum is totally closed.

And it really makes me sad because I’m not working, and angry because the politicians in the United States don’t care about the people. They don’t care about the workers. They only care about their particular interests. They play with the necessities of the people. That’s the reason I want to say, to the government, to all the branches of the government, and to all the politicians in the United States: Stop playing with the necessities of the workers.


Rebecca Rubenstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Midnight Breakfast. When not reading books made of paper, she can be found thinking aloud on Twitter. She resides in San Francisco and maintains a healthy relationship with the fog. Rebecca is Interviews Editor Emeritus for The Rumpus. More from this author →