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Hundreds of Government Workers Are Setting Up GoFundMe Campaigns to Get Through Donald Trump’s Shutdown

The White House is seen in the background, as trash lays uncollected on the National Mall due to the partial shutdown of the US government on January 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. - President Donald Trump warned Wednesday the US federal government may not fully reopen any time soon, as he stood firm on his demand for billions of dollars in funding for a border wall with Mexico. Addressing a cabinet meeting on the 12th day of the partial shutdown, Trump warned it "could be a long time" before the impasse is resolved. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

We’re nearly three weeks into what is currently the second-longest government shutdown in U.S. history, meaning hundreds of thousands of government workers are still unable to work or are being asked to work without pay, and there’s no end in sight.

Donald Trump says he “can relate” to workers who are struggling to pay their bills and also claims many of those workers support the shutdown. But Trump was born into enough privilege to provide him with a permanent financial safety net. Does anyone believe that he actually relates to the realities of how this shutdown affects people and families?

Some federal employees are lucky enough to have savings or a partner with steady employment to bridge the gap until the shutdown ends. But many government employees live paycheck to paycheck, many are single parents, and many simply can’t work for weeks or longer without pay.

Trump also says many of those furloughed and unpaid employees support his shutdown, though that seems increasingly unlikely as many are two days away from missing a paycheck, and are struggling to make ends meet. Some–hundreds, even–are struggling so much that they’ve taken to Go Fund Me to ask for assistance.

According to CBS News, more than 700 campaigns have been launched on Go Fund Me to cover rent, bills, and other basic expenses. (Apparently, that advice to trade chores for rent didn’t go over well with too many landlords.)

Trump and his supporters have tried to convince Americans not to sympathize with furloughed and unpaid workers. They’ve declared them to all be Democrats or well-off pencil-pushers (as if they then don’t deserve to be paid for the work they do). But these campaigns have raised about $50,000 so far, and those that have received media attention have far surpassed their goals, making it pretty clear that people support the workers being hurt by Trump’s stubbornness.

There are 800,000 people not getting a paycheck right now. In those GoFundMe campaigns, there are stories of all sorts of people, from tax inspectors to janitorial staff.

There’s a single mother of six, who is also a veteran and is struggling to make ends meet.

There’s a federal employee whose wife is currently on unpaid maternity leave, taking their double income down to none, and with a newborn in their home.

There’s a TSA worker returning from unpaid maternity leave to a job that is now itself unpaid.

Meanwhile, the shutdown has led to actual deaths across the country. At least seven people have died in national parks since the shutdown began, which is not itself unusual, but because of the lack of oversight within the parks, at least one of those deaths in Yosemite went unreported for more than a week.

Sharice Davids, one of the two freshmen Native American Congresswomen, says the shutdown is hitting Native populations especially hard. She told NPR that she “spoke with one tribal leader who said that they actually lost a tribal member because they were unable to plow the roads so that an emergency service vehicle could get to him in time.”

In his Oval Office address last night, Trump called the need for a wall “a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.” There is clearly a crisis of the soul happening here but it has nothing to do with a wall and everything to do with a man throwing a temper tantrum and causing destruction in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.


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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.