Donald Trump himself is totally clueless, of course, but he is a very lucky man.
Never more so than right now. A large chunk of the federal government is shut down for lack of funds because he decided to throw a fit over his silly little wall and refused to sign a continuing resolution to fund several federal agencies.
The ill effects of this temper tantrum are vast and varied. The fed has lowered its prediction for GDP growth in the first quarter. Delta airlines reports that the shut down has cost the company $25 million. The Department of Agriculture is paying February food stamps early to recipients who may not know they are doing so, and has warned them that they may not get any payment in February at all. Thousands of low income tenants face the possibility of eviction because HUD is not operating.
These are mostly consequences that are fairly abstract, or that Trump is only too happy to ignore. He almost certainly does not realize that he runs an enormous risk of a huge accident that will be a fitting black mark on his already much bruised presidency. TSA agents and air traffic controllers, Secret Service agents and the Coast Guard, are all working without pay since they should have received a pay check recently that they did not because of the lack of funds.
Trump does not understand the concepts of professionalism and integrity. Happily for us, all of these unpaid federal employees do, and they are busy living those values by showing up to do their jobs without pay.
But humans are human, and we all make mistakes. People who have the added aggravation, on top of their usual job annoyances — every job has them — of not getting paid, with all that entails, are more likely to make mistakes. Most of these jobs are very stressful and place enormous responsibilities on the persons who perform them. Again, Trump has no idea. He has never had a stressful job in his life, until now, and we have seen how badly he has performed under that stress.
Airline crashes are incredibly rare in the United States these days because we have a highly effective system of air traffic control. Let one accident occur with a commercial aircraft that is in any way attributable to a failure of air traffic control, and Trump will bear the brunt of the blame, since most people already correctly blame him for the shut down. If I were a terrorist, now would be a great time to plan an attack, when the various agencies that are supposed to protect us are stretched thin with unpaid employees.
Those employees are doing the best they can. They should go on strike, even though doing so may be technically illegal. Let the DOJ go to court and get an injunction. If enough federal employees go on strike all at once, pressure on Trump and his butt boy, Mitch McConnell, who could pass the appropriations bill but won’t because he’s a good Republican, not a good American, would be intense and would break the log jam very quickly.
No one wants to see anyone die as the result of the federal shut down, but if that does happen, it would be an entirely fitting outcome of Trump’s petulance.