Dozens of Libertarian Party members met on the National Mall in Washington, DC yesterday to pick up the litter and garbage piling up around some of America’s most famous monuments. With no regular litter collection happening on federally-owned land during the government shutdown, the burden of keeping much of the city clean has fallen to private citizens.
Government shutdown prompts private action
Officially sponsored by the Libertarian Party of DC and the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia, the event drew patriotic LP members from as far away as Pennsylvania. A total of seven teams, each equipped with a roll of garbage bags, fanned out across the Mall on different pre-assigned routes.
Effort was concentrated on areas most likely to be visited by tourists, which included the Mall itself, the Capitol building, the Lincoln Memorial, and the various war monuments in the area.
Besides general litter, the Libertarians found debris left over from protesters, and even a bottle of human urine.
“Getting your hands dirty in politics”
Private citizens voluntarily stepping in to fix a problem caused by government fits perfectly with Libertarian ideals. The symbolism of the day’s events was not lost on the participants.
“It’s an example of us practicing what we preach. We want the private sector to step up when government can’t, so that’s what we’re doing here,” said LP of DC chairman and Libertarian National Committee member Joe Bishop-Henchman.
Libertarian Party national membership manager Jess Mears agreed.
“Libertarians are about reducing the size of government,” she explained. “Obviously, the federal government does maintain the parks. While it is shut down right now, we’re trying to exemplify other ways that we could have these services without federal dollars contributing to them.
“Also,” she added, “it’s getting your hands dirty in politics. Literally.”
“It’s even a little bit more than I was expecting”
Yesterday’s workers included one Federal employee who has been furloughed by the government shutdown, LP of Northern Virginia chairman Adam Theo.
Surrounded by dozens of full garbage bags at the end of the session, with more still coming in from arriving teams, Theo was very proud of the day’s work. “We got quite a haul here,” he said. “It’s even a little bit more than I was expecting.”
After completely filling a van with full garbage bags a pickup truck was brought in to take away the remainder.
With no end the government shutdown in sight, provisional plans for the Libertarians to return to the same area next week are in discussion.
“I think we all have a mutual responsibility to take care of our public spaces, and government doesn’t necessarily need to pay for that,” said participant Ethan Bishop-Henchman.
“It’s definitely not paying for it right now.”