Blinded by The Light: The Politics of Progress

I am an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader serving in the Capital Region of New York and I am one the nearly 800,000 federal employees, deemed nonessential, who remain affected by the Government shutdown.

Like many of the soldiers of the United States Army charged with defending America, I chose to enlist myself in an ongoing war. Unlike these soldiers, the war I fight does not extend overseas into countries like iraq or syria. My comrades and I aren’t the typical subjects of the nightly news, we don’t usually get speakerphone recognition when we attend local baseball games, and parents certainly don’t prompt their children to salute us when we walk the streets we serve in. Instead, we endure quietly; forever carrying the weight of our silent successes. In fact, we value our experience as VISTAs so much that during our year of service, we take a vow of poverty agreeing to be compensated at levels of subsistence for the 12 months we serve in American communities.

This sacrifice serves as a means of full immersion into the communities we will experience, learn, and eventually work to change. However, we have been distinguished by the fact that, unlike many of the families we serve, we would be able to sustain ourselves for the months ahead. No matter how dark the passage of time, there remained a gleam of security with the light of the Federal government behind us, guiding us forward into the challenges of tomorrow.  Regardless of how meager our endowment, we were given the peace of mind needed to focus on our mission; fighting to break the bonds of poverty. Unfortunately, with the rise of our recent government shutdown it has appeared to me that no one is fighting for us. Until the shutdown is over, living allowance payments will cease for the majority of VISTAs.


Because of politics as usual, a false dichotomy has been perpetuated; one of light and light. Democrats remain on one side blaming republicans for having an “unenlightened” view towards universal health care and Republicans are on the other blaming democrats for their inability to see the problems associated with it. Ironically, both sides bear some aspect of the truth on their deluded branches of convictions. The reality, however, is that while they bask in the warmth of their hubris, we shiver in their shadows. Though there remains a majority (nearly 1.3 million)  of federal employees still in commission, the rest of us are stuck in the dark: unsure, furloughed, or deemed non essential. To be fair  Some progress has been made in the form of a bill passed by The House on Oct. 5 granting retroactive pay for non essential workers during the shutdown. Still much more needs to be done.

As a soldier fighting in a war against the misdeeds of poverty, I find myself a victim of a more sinister enemy: The Politics of Progress.

When it comes to the game changers that drive progress we often witness the malfunctions that arise from our leaders acting separately, convinced of their own truths and rejecting the truths of their counterparts. Inadvertently, the people are always the ones to suffer as the misdirected foe of these tragic wars of pride.

How dark our plight when they are blinded by the light, who will have the courage to run from this fight.

Check out this video addressing the core issue of this shutdown. The Affordable Care Act where the VLog bros look into Applying for health care under new provisions

Img via Senate DemocratsBen Husmann

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