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Gary Horton: National Parks Are Closed; So Are National Minds

Posted: October 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.

This past weekend I took a group of young employees on a boating trip to Santa Cruz Island for an overnight adventure and island hike.

We ran the boat along the island’s southern side to its northwestern point, where we hunkered down for an otherworldly and blustery night at distant Forney’s Cove.

On Sunday we made the long trek around the north side to Prisoner’s Cove with the intention of finally getting back on land and to enjoy the wonders of the island.

Idropped the group off at the shore and returned to our boat laying at anchor when I was surprisingly approached by a marine park ranger who, after tying his boat to mine, politely informed me, “Due to the government shutdown, the Channel Islands National Park is closed” — and would I please remove my friends from the shore.

Ah, that’s right. Santa Cruz isn’t just part of California, it’s a national park compromised by Congress’ trickery.

I dutifully called the disappointed group back onboard, and we trudged our thwarted selves back to Oxnard.

I mused to myself if our zealous congressmen had creating “Kodak moments” like these in mind when they thought it a wise gambit to lever their frustrations with our multicultural president and his Affordable Care Act out on the lower 98 percent of the public.

Sometimes, zealous folks get so caught up in their own rhetoric, so baptized in their own dogma, they lose track of the greater concern beyond their immediate fixations and blindnesses.

Our national parks are closed, and so are our national minds. Certainly, congressional Republican minds are “shut down” — as evidenced by their devastatingly stubborn refusal to work for our common good.

Pivoting; Monday I received a call from Congressman McKeon. Now, the congressman and I don’t agree on much of anything, particularly in matters of America’s continuous international militancy.

That said, unlike many of his congressional peers, Buck communicates with nearly everyone, even with amateur columnist thorns in his side. Which communication is exactly what his tea party, shut-down-fixated brethren have infuriatingly refused to engage.

Buck called to correct me on other matters, but after he adequately reeducated me, he opened up to share insights on the shutdown.

Buck observed that Senator Tom Cruz led the Senate and House Republicans on an unwise course, and Republicans erred when they followed this Pied Piper of End of Times doom.

Things got out of hand as the tea party gang built up steam and now, despite McKeon or McCain and many other moderate old-school Republicans wanting out, there’s no politically straightforward way to get out.

Buck assured me he was committed to getting us out, but also admitted that party realities, personalities, and negotiation structures were making resolution tough. I shared with our congressman how gravely default would affect me and much of his district.

Despite our direct communication, I felt a need to reiterate just how personally painful and even insulting this tea party extortion is toward me and others recovering from a traumatic recession. I later wrote Buck — and I’m sure many readers share some of my sentiments:

“Dear Congressman,

“Please know that this (shutdown and default) is gravely personal to me because I did, in fact, suffer so much in the recession. (My company) dropped from 1,400 employees to 210; ... I lost 80 percent or more of my total wealth, and, in the end, I ended up with something like PTSS.

“This whole recession was very serious business for myself and the 1,200 people who lost their jobs.

“Now, in late 2013, some of us are finally recovering. ... We’ve been in the black for 12 months. ... Our people are again starting to thrive.

 “I have hired over 80 people in the past 180 days, half of whom come from your district. One is an Air Force vet, and we’re looking at another one who was a Navy logistics specialist.

“So, when our own government intentionally puts us in harm’s way, it is a deep, personal offense and insult. It is a financial kick to the face just when we’re getting off the mat after a knockout recession.
“What kind of government and what kind of leaders would intentionally suffer this upon their own citizens? (The answer to this question isn’t very flattering. ...)

“Buck, as you can imagine, this whole thing is very emotional, important, and stressing. ... ‘We The People’ feel we are being used as pawns or hostages, and we are quite upset about it. ... We want you guys to knock it off and work in good faith with all parties.

“I believe you when you say you wish everyone could put their (partisan) agendas down for a moment to work thing out logically. ...”

As you read this column, America will have reached the default deadline of Oct. 16. I hope that by Wednesday morning, Congressman McKeon will have been allowed to vote and end this self-inflicted wound on America.

I believe him when he tells me he both wants to end the shutdown and negotiate in good faith to improve Obamacare.

Let’s trust congressional minds — as well as national parks — open back up for a more hopeful Thursday.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.



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