I debated making President Obama the guy in the turban since so many Republicans see him wearing the headdress anyway, and that’s the only emoji man who's of a color other than white or yellow. But it seemed borderline offensive, or unintentionally incendiary, so I went with the grey koala. The marsupial as leader of the free world offered a neutral black-white middle ground, and Obama has big ears and grey hair. Koala peace policy casting.

John Boehner is an orange because he is orange. Mike Lee is a baby because he looks like a giant baby. The rest are pretty much a bunch of old white guys and ladies.

Why is this happening to us? A budget had to be passed before September 30 or the government was going to be forced to shut down. The Democrats, who control the Senate, like Obamacare. (Thumbs up to the Affordable Care Act koala!) The House majority Republicans, especially the Tea Party, hate it. (Keep the koala out of our industrial medical complex!)

And then? The Republican House dug its elephant* heels in, intent on either passing a budget that defunded Obamacare or going into shutdown. Orange was red in the face.

The Senate dems were never going to let that happen, conjuring an emoji skull: “I want to be absolutely crystal clear: Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead, dead.” - Sen. Harry Reid.

*Not all Republicans supported the stubborn strategy. Supposedly, 175 out of 233 GOP reps wanted to avoid the shutdown. For example, Sen. Tom Coburn said it "will deliver nothing other than pain and not be successful.”

This is where things got truly cartoony, downright Dr. Seussian. Ted Cruz took the Senate floor in a 21-hour, 19-minute filibuster-like bizarre act--in which he had no actual power to prevent the Senate from voting down the House’s Obamacare-gutting bill.

During his rant-a-thon he compared Obamacare to Nazi Germany; mentioned that he loves the “little burgers” at White Castle; exchanged silly questions such as “Where are Chinese gooseberries from?” “What color is the black box on an airplane?” and “Where are Panama hats made?” with his Cobamacare-hater Sen. Mike Lee; and read Green Eggs and Ham out loud. The Senate proceeded to vote and sent the spending bill back to the House.

The Senate and the House sent bills back and forth, back and forth, adding and subtracting various provisions in a tug-of-war with a summer-camp level of sophistication, neither side willing to budge. The shutdown deadline passed more than two weeks ago and the quibbling continues.

Under the cover of chaos, Obama announced his nomination of Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve.

Nany Pelosi and John Boehner had a meeting in which Pelosi offered the Republicans a concession: lower spending to the Republican baseline level in exchange for leaving Obamacare intact. Boehner didn’t bite. Both sides continue futzing with the numbers--up, down, up, down--and both sides keep being all, “yah trick.”

What did the shutdown actually shut down?

According to USA.gov (tagline "Government Made Easy"):
-Services that supply seniors and young children with healthy food
-National parks and monuments
-Research into life-threatening diseases
-Processing of applications for small business loans
-NASA (mostly)

This is all bad news, except for the fact that it was an opportunity to use the bread loaf, cactus, and outer space emoji.

So where does this leave us? Of course everyone has an opinion.

According to the ultimate authority on global finance Suze Orman (played here by a young blond boy): Interest rates are going to go up across the board, causing a dangerous chain reaction in which the housing market could slow and “put us into a recession, businesses stop hiring. We stop expanding.”

According to Bill O’Reilly (played here by yet another old bald white guy): "The Republican Party finds itself in trouble--big trouble. Obamacare is not going to be defunded, and the GOP will have to make a deal with the president. And you know who's most happy about this? Hillary Clinton, that's who. Hard-right Americans should understand that Democrats will win next year's midterm elections and the presidency of 2016 if the Republican Party does not begin to solve problems."

And according to Nate Silver…nothin’ much. He says the media are probably overstating the political impact of the shutdown. "If the current round of negotiations is resolved within the next week or so, they might turn out to have a relatively minor impact by November 2014.”

Co.Design

Emoji Major No. 10: The Government Shutdown

This week, Zoe Mendelson takes it to our nation's capital, where the fate of the country is in the hands of ridiculous little characters.

And the government shutdown continues. The deadline to raise the debt limit is now tomorrow. But, as of today at least, there's some optimism about the Senate pushing a plan for resolve. And word on the street is that Boehner the Orange may no longer have the juice to stop the House from blocking it.

The whole thing really makes me laugh. This impasse and the state of Congress are the best definition of sh*t show I can think of.

I’ve always been interested in politics--see dorky photo of intern me with Sen. Dick Durbin and its emoji interpretation below--but right now, I wish the seat-of-government scene were a little less interesting. This official U.S. sh*t show is as can't-look-away engrossing as anything on TV or in the theater.

When my editor and I first dreamed up this column, emoji news seemed like a great idea, my favorite potential concept. But when we started plotting it out, we decided it got too insensitive too quickly. First of all, the news’ obsession with terrorism/one-guy-in-a-turban emoji situation was doomed. (If you missed this before, the only emoji of color-not-yellow in there wears a turban.)

Second, is it really OK to depict catastrophic human events in silly little cartoon characters?

Since the shutdown is equal parts drama and news--and probably not as catastrophic as the media say it is--I thought I would take it for a spin. It's loaded with Shakespearean clown characters, and it has caused no direct fatalities, at least not yet. Plus, I’d like to try to make emoji into something at least vaguely educational to counterbalance the pop culture subjects I usually go for. (Although I guess politics isn’t much more substantive than Katy Perry these days, and Congress could probably learn a lot about teamwork from Friday Night Lights).

This, too, I admit, made the shutdown an attractive emoji frontier: a bunch of old white guys all played by the same old white guy joke. (Orange you glad I made an occasional exception?)

So hope for some grownup behavior from the government this week. In the meantime, watch the wee ones' Washington antics in the slideshow above.

ASK US FOR ADVICE: I got distracted by the state of the nation this week, but I am still committed to a future Emoji Major advice column. Send any life, love, work questions you might like answered in emoji to askemoji@fastcompany.com by sometime soon pretty please.

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