Shutdown, Day 1: 9 p.m. – 10 p.m.

I didn’t set out to chronicle my furlough escapades (furlescapades?) hour by hour today. But since my brain’s been momentarily freed from thinking about federal higher education policy and research, I had time (!) to reflect on how I feel about this debacle.

I think my 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. entry pretty much sums it up.

Having lived in this town for over eight years — and literally breathing its exhilarating, intoxicating air — it’s very easy to be cynical about politics. Here, it’s not just soundbites and headlines. Here, power is traded as a commodity. As a result, a certain atmosphere envelopes the city. It’s like living in a windowless warehouse full of used car salesmen.

But I don’t want to end the evening with a sense of hopelessness, because that’s exactly what we don’t need in times like this.

What we need are hopeful, realistic people who will work together (i.e., across all aisles) to address the tough issues that our country faces. What we need are educated, reasonable people who will talk solutions, not soundbites. What we need are people who never forget that they are Americans first, and X/Y/Z/whatever later.

I look back at the mental picture I took of that crowd 10 years ago, their right hands raised, their eyes full of hope. In that moment, it didn’t matter where we came from or what we looked like. We took an oath to make this country our home. With each vote we cast and each tax dollar we contribute, we make our home a better place.

Cliched as it may seem, it’s apt: We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.

That’s why I haven’t lost hope.

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