I’m taking the shutdown a bit personally.
I’m a federal employee. I work for a statistical agency that produces economic data, and I take pride in producing a timely, consistent and accurate product that informs business and policy decisions across the country.
I’m also a conservative. I often believe that solving a policy problem means getting government out of the way, rather than getting the government involved.
I have lived inside the Capital Beltway for almost nine years, and I know a lot of Republicans. Some have campaigned for Mitt Romney, John McCain or George W. Bush. Some worked for the Bush administration.
These days, with a Democrat in the White House, many of them work for conservative think tanks and policy institutes. But they aren’t networking contacts; they are my friends. We go to church together, we eat together, we talk about politics and policy.
Given that I have friends intimately involved in the process that brought about the shutdown, the uncertain employment that I’m experiencing seems especially personal. Don’t my friends realize that my wife and I just moved and are having a baby? Both of those things are expensive, especially in the District of Columbia. A missed paycheck is the last thing I need. Even if they don’t care about all the faceless “non-essential bureaucrats” (as one friend put it on Facebook), don’t they care about my family and me?
Of course, this isn’t about me.
But to my friends in the inner circles of conservativism: Please remember that the government shutdown isn’t just strategy or negotiating leverage. It affects real people. It’s personal.
Paul Ferree is a resident of Alexandria, Va. He wrote this for The Washington Post.