The political news in Washington this week has been all about the possibility of a federal government shutdown next week, provided that Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution needed to fund government operations. Normally, such a major news story might prompt me to analyze the situation here, but I have decided not to, and the reason is simple: I’m not bothered.
In the United States, the usual phrase for such an emotion would be, “I don’t care,” or less artfully, “I don’t give a crap”, or a similar phrase that adds in words I typically don’t use in my writing. (I am trying to keep Church & State at least somewhat family friendly.) Yet, none of these American phrases has quite the same meaning as, “I’m not bothered.”
Contrary to initial appearances, this phrase does not necessarily mean that a person finds something to be un-bothersome, i.e. not annoying. In fact, this phrase would often be used in response to something that a person does find bothersome. As I understand it, the meaning is somewhere between, “That’s so stupid it’s not worth caring about,” and, “I refuse to allow myself to be bothered by something so ridiculous.”
That is how I feel about what is going on in Congress right now. Once or twice a year, they push the government’s finances as close to the brink as possible, locked in an elaborate game of “chicken” between Republicans and Democrats, right and left. They apparently do not care about the anxiety this causes to government employees who depend on their paychecks, American families who are unsure whether they should make any big purchases in this climate, or overseas investors who feel our government is becoming more undependable by the day.
I could write an article complaining about this situation, how it makes our elected representatives look like a bunch of sore losers and spoiled children, how it is ultimately a self-defeating strategy for the Republicans, how a prolonged shutdown could actually cost taxpayers more money in the long term, etc. But a lot of people are doing that already, and as far as I’m concerned, it is not worth the time I would spend on it.
This Congress – particularly the more extreme anti-government types, but I’m including all of them – is not worth my time. They have proven themselves incapable of addressing important national problems in a responsible way on numerous occasions. They are more concerned with scoring political points than anything else. At this moment, I am going to deny them my anger, my words of outrage, and my undoubtedly sensible suggestions. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m really not bothered.
Yes, things are bad, and they may even get worse. But as long as our representatives are unwilling to embrace wisdom and practicality, as long as being a moderate is virtually a criminal offense, and as long as we have a media that seems to thrive on this kind of melodrama, there is no point in devoting time and energy to this rubbish. The only influence I have over the situation is to choose not to become wrapped up in this game, so I will not write a long analysis of something that deserves no analysis.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. Members of Congress, enjoy your last-minute brinkmanship, your gloriously self-righteous speeches, and the donations that will pour into your party headquarters to fund more negative ads of the same type I have been bombarded with here in Virginia for much of this year. Go ahead and do your worst: I’m not bothered.