Sure, I was just as upset as the next person that I could not go to any of the Smithsonian museums until Congress managed to reach a consensus. I even felt bad for the tourists I read about in the paper who had made untimely visits to the nation's capital and were unable to carry out their desired itineraries. But these are only minor misfortunes when compared to the hardships that others had to endure as a result of the shutdown.
The underprivileged members of society were the ones who had to bear the greatest brunt since their basic needs were put in jeopardy. Due to a lack of funding from the federal government, states were forced to come up with their own money to continue running government assistance programs such as Work First and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). With limited funds, many states stopped accepting new applicants altogether, which meant that new mothers and young children were denied access to proper nutrition and healthcare.
As I was drafting the blog at my internship, I became less frustrated over the fact that I could not visit one of the national museums and more upset at how the government shutdown worked to further oppress those who are already vulnerable. It made me question how the government decides between what is essential and what is nonessential. I realized that the inconveniences that the shutdown presented for me were nothing compared to what it inflicted upon others.
This past weekend I went to both the National Zoo and the National Museum of American History. As I observed the animals at the zoo, I could not help but think how these creatures were still provided with food despite the shutdown, but some impoverished American citizens were not. If another shutdown happens in the future, I can only hope that Congress will think twice before cutting off funding for the programs that people depend on for survival.