How is it that in a nation whose Constitution espouses that all are created equal that our security can be held hostage by an ill-fated political act called a “shutdown.” This nation is not about equality among its citizens. That’s a folly fostered by political partisans to create a greater socio-economic divide to support their agendas.

Setting aside the travesties this nation has endured from its birth — freeing itself from a tyrannical English monarchy, the enslavement of a people who continue to experience the consequences today and the systematic genocide of Native Americans — a sickness continues to fester.

What logic is there in deeming some government employees essential and, for lack of a better word, non-essential? It is a disgrace and dishonor to have people work with no pay simply because they are deemed essential. It is a fractured logic and lurks in the gutter of our current political state. Simply put, it is prejudicial.

A new Congress has just returned to work to begin the process of governance. All 535 elected officials make up the legislative branch, each sworn to represent their electorate in a fair and impartial manner by setting aside their personal ideologies. Through the holidays, none of these elected officials had to worry about their salaries being paid, whether their medical premiums were covered or their pension contributions made — not a care in the world about paying rent or bills that accumulate this joyous time of year.

But certain workers deemed essential have been required to work without pay and with the added burden of not knowing when the shutdown will end. The Department of Homeland Security, including its largest divisions, Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard among others, have been deemed essential and ordered to work at the pleasure of the government. Are we to assume the other federal employees are non-essential employees, including members of Congress? So why are they being paid during the shutdown? It seems that we have greater equals among equals. What a surprise.

The irony is overwhelming when we consider that Department of Homeland Security employees, a critical component of our nation’s safety, are deemed essential but not enough to get paid.

Perhaps those 535 folks in Congress can stop the daily shenanigans and get to work — or give up their salaries and benefits to the folks in CPB and the Coast Guard who protect us every day. Do we not have the backbone to support the very people who protect us?

The shutdown is a strategy that will fail the president, alienate more people from believing in their government to protect and defend this country and, in the end, will become another political tool used as a threat as opposed to intelligent, nonpartisan discussion.

Allowing a shutdown to happen isn’t only an embarrassment to U.S. leadership but a resounding no-confidence vote that demonstrates members of Congress are as useless as a bent nail.

Bruce L. Pepchinski

Sound View Drive

Mount Pleasant