“Kick the Can”

Dear President Trump,

Writing to you every day has inspired me to look into so very many random, obscure things and today is no exception as I just learned about the likely origins of “kick the can down the road.” I went after the basic phrase “kick the can” in Google to see what I might see and noticed that the variation “kick the can rules” came up. I learned it is a hide and seek tag game involving an “It” who closes their eyes and counts aloud to some number while the other kids hide. “It” then tries to tag the other children and put them in jail before someone is able to kick the literal can and free them all. This seems like a rather good description of what just happened with the government shutdown showdown. You were “It” standing in the middle with your eyes closed not knowing where anyone was and when you opened your eyes you still didn’t know where anyone was but as they came out of their hiding places, you tried to pick them off and put them in jail. The metaphor is cleanest when the Dreamers are the rest of the players, but during this whole mess you also tried to pick off lots of Democratic Congress people so it works there too.

From there I went to a cool grammar and etymology blog that unpacked how the procrastination meaning of “kick the can down the road” is likely linked to the much, much older kick the can game. The etymologists, Patricia O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, trace the game back to 1896 and then bring in the phrase “kick it around,” which was first used in 1936 and means to carouse and basically wander around aimlessly having a good time. You will likely take exception to the idea that today’s procrastination example of kicking the can down the road with yet another continuing resolution is because you all want to carouse and wander around aimlessly having a good time, but I think the idea has some merit. There must be something in it for you all since this is the 4th CR since you took office. Did you, McConnell, and Ryan sign a pact to hobble the government by continually making us lurch from CR to CR? It really would be a great way to make a completely dysfunctional mess of it. Hopefully someone else gets to be “It” soon and will tag you and put you in jail so we can set about cleaning up after all your carousing.

May we be safe from wastrels.
May we be happy to stop playing games.
May we be healthy and mature enough to face our responsibilities.
May we find peaceable ways to work together for the common good.

Tracy Simpson

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