You can conclude a lot about people’s priorities during a crisis.
Take North Carolina’s Congresswoman Renne Ellmers, one of the elected representatives who has forced the shutdown of Washington’s Government.
Across the Atlantic in Belfast, the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long and her staff in East Belfast spent their morning doing what might strike you as unexceptional political work: leafleting among their constituents.
They were out and about, prioritizing the needs of their constituents – voters and non-voters alike – because they had to contend with a forced shutdown of their own. There was a bomb scare outside their offices.
NI’s political class gets a lot of abuse for being on the take, reactionary, and hopelessly antagonistic. It’s largely understated. But it’s also overly-generalized. Leaders like Long represent a tradition in Northern Ireland of individuals prepared to live with immense levels of stress and hostility, abuse and threats. Behind leaders like her are the unsung staff for whom the dangers are often even greater given their lower profiles.
But the ability to get on with the job when people are trying to kill you is extraordinary.
Reacting to the bomb alert, Long’s colleague, Stormont MLA Chris Little said this:
“Whether it turns out to a hoax or a viable device, it will not deter myself and my colleagues from working for constituents and for businesses in east Belfast,” Mr Lyttle said.
If you live in East Belfast and you receive an Alliance leaflet today, take a minute. Give it a read.