From a column I wrote for the Champaign Urbana News Gazette, June 1991 (NOTE: If you substitute a very few words, this still works. Scary.)
I just heard that the government’s partial shutdown is close to resolution. Instead of cheering, I’d like to propose a different strategy for next year. Here’s how it would work:
SCENE: Morning of June 30, 1992 September 28, 2014. The Legislature wakes up and says to itself, “What a great day to enact some meaningful legislation like naming the Official State Grub (NOTE 1: this is the only bit I can’t update because we already have Congress, so we don’t need another National Grub…) or annexing Missouri Canada.” Then it glances at the clock and sees that it’s Budget Time.
The Legislature, of course, misses the pre-game showdowns, but arrives in time to see the governor Senate and the Speaker of the House face-off in the finals of the Budget Bowl. The mighty contenders are fresh, the day is young, field conditions (the backs of taxpayers) are perfect.
The contest continues through the day. As the midnight buzzer sounds, the governor Congress proposes a draw. “Give me victory,” responds the Speaker President, “or give me victory. People who don’t get paychecks can take a lot of comfort in the fact that I’m fighting for what I believe in – power.”
Sounds familiar so far? Well, I’m proposing a new ending. Everyone in Illinois America should meet at my house at 8:00AM on June 30, 1992 September 28, 2014, and we’ll carpool over to Springfield Washington.
Once we get there, we’ll take up positions – lining up in front of every bathroom in the Capitol. At the front of each line will be our shock-troops, 12-year-olds with iPads, capable of remaining in each and every Congressional bathroom for days at a time. Our battle cry, “No Budget? No Bathroom!” will resonate against every Legislative bladder.
NOTE 2: My husband favors a more historical precedent. His great-great-grandfather, Col. Shadrach Bond, was the first governor of Illinois. When he had a political disagreement with his opponent, John Rice Jones, in 1808, Bond challenged Rice to a duel with pistols. (Actual historical fact.)
In 1992 2014 if the
governor President and the Speaker Congress know that a failure to compromise will mean they have to shoot at each other at 40 paces on live C-SPAN, and that they can’t even go to the bathroom first, that budget will be balanced in no time – especially since after the Bond-Rice duel, the Legislature passed an 1810 law that in case of a fatal result of a duel, all involved parties and seconds will be held guilty of murder.
I suggest that everybody who reads this column send it to all their elected representatives as fair warning that failure to pass a timely budget next year could result in their being shot, convicted of murder, and really, really, really needing to pee. The choice is theirs.