This past Sunday, my fellow RedState Contributor and all around great American, T. LaDuke, penned a good article regarding the Air Traffic Control System and the end of the government “shutdown.” His effort caused me to reconsider a previous article where I compared Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump. You can see LaDuke’s entire article here.

My compatriot makes some great points and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I’d make a serious wager against him in this case. Certainly nothing serious, like a bottle of Single Malt—a bottle of blended swill, perhaps, but not a good Single Malt.

He states that if President Trump made this same mistake again, “it would truly be political suicide.” He could be correct. However, another shutdown that affects the Air Traffic Control System need not have this same result. Here is where Trump can add Ronaldus Magnus into the mix alongside Old Hickory. Back in 1981, PATCO, the union representing Air Traffic Controllers declared a strike, which was illegal under US Statute.

President Reagan ordered them back to work under pain of dismissal. Some came back. Others did not. Reagan fired them and banned them from further government service, a ban that lasted until President Clinton (go figure) removed it. The point is, President Reagan acted decisively and within the law—and gained respect, even international respect for doing so. No less than the leadership of the former USSR, via documents recently released, opined that Reagan, based on his actions during the
PATCO strike, wasn’t to be trifled with.

President Trump now has the same opportunity. Now that he has seen during the recent shutdown that the current version of PATCO (which was long ago de-certified) was willing to use illegal “sick-outs” as a form of striking without actually going on strike. This is still illegal and also against Civil Service Regulations and can be punished by termination. But forewarned is forearmed.

Trump can use this. He is aware of the possibility, likely probability that the Democrats won’t really negotiate anything. He should put the Military on standby to provide Air Traffic Controllers in critical areas. He should also put the Air Traffic Controllers and their current union on notice that any illegal job action, including “sick-outs,” will be investigated and individuals participating, punished. Further, he should tell them that anyone encouraging, coordinating or generally promoting such an illegal job action will be charged with a criminal conspiracy.

He had the Democrats on the ropes during this last “shutdown.” Only the threat of a serious aviation incident caused him to sign on to this three week Continuing Resolution. It’s time for him to channel some Ronald Reagan alongside his inner Andrew Jackson.

Mike Ford is a retired Infantry Colonel who writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

You can find his other Red State work here.