24 January 2018

Shutdown shitstorm

As soon as Senate Democrats agreed to a deal to end the shutdown on Monday, a predictable fusillade of attacks erupted from much of the left -- that the Democrats were spineless, had given up the fight too quickly when the public was blaming the Republicans, had betrayed the base and the spirit of the Women's March the day before, etc.  Much of this vitriol was posted so quickly that it was clear the critics had not taken time to learn the details or consider the broader situation.  For some people, "Democrats always cave" is a recorded script they carry around in their heads, to be played whenever any remotely applicable news story pulls the string on their backs.

Recent history doesn't support this view of Democrats in Congress, however.  Recall how they were unanimously reliable votes against ACA repeal, tax "reform", and other proposed atrocities over the last year, forcing the Republicans to rely on entirely on their own narrow majorities, which often splintered and failed due to factionalism and unwillingness to compromise (and public pressure).  We were able to win because our people stood together while the enemy was divided.  In fact, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly stood firm despite the inherent weakness of being in the minority.

In this case, they probably could not have won, and standing fast and dragging out the shutdown would probably have done a lot of political damage with no win to offset it.

First off, public opinion was rapidly shifting against the Democrats' position.  Bloggers kept pointing at that poll showing 48% blaming Republicans for the shutdown vs 28% blaming Democrats, but a new poll released Monday showed the ratio shrinking to 41% to 36%.  This trend would have continued.  Fair or not, the talking point that Democrats were holding military paychecks (and CHIP beneficiaries) hostage for the sake of illegal aliens was a devastatingly effective one.  While a large majority of Americans favor protecting DREAMers, 56% said that doing so was not worth a shutdown.  Neither time nor the public were on our side here.

(Yes, I know the argument that Democrats couldn't be blamed because Republicans control both Houses and the Presidency.  That doesn't work.  Most voters are aware of filibusters and know that a majority short of 60 is not, in fact, full control of the Senate in many situations.  The issue was plainly that Democrats were refusing to let the funding bill pass because they were demanding something not related to it.  And the above-cited poll shows that people were in fact moving towards blaming the Democrats, despite any claim that they couldn't.)

By taking the deal offered, Democrats saved CHIP and gave up nothing except a DACA fix that couldn't have been obtained by prolonging the shutdown anyway.  Now the ball is back in the Republicans' court. The shutdown had put Democrats in the position of having to offend either the political center or the radicals among their own base. They did the smart thing and chose to risk offending the radicals. Now it's the Republicans who are in that position. They can alienate the political center by doing nothing to save DACA and producing an endless stream of news stories about deportations and broken families, or they can pass something and infuriate the knuckle-dragging Trumpanzees.  And the Republican base is far more infested with fanatics who view any compromise as betrayal than ours is.

Democrats are now back to being seen as defenders of DACA, which most voters support, rather than as using a shutdown for leverage, which most voters reject.

I'm glad to see that quite a few liberal blogs and sites have taken a more realistic view:

HuffPost notes that ending the shutdown staved off a turn of public opinion against not only the Democrats but also the DREAMers.

TPM is astonished at those who jump to conclusions and fail to see the bigger picture.

Vox reminds us that Democrats haven't really given up any leverage.

The Mahablog opines that Schumer made the best of a bad situation.

The Carpentariat points out that the fight was moving onto Trump's turf, that it was one Democrats couldn't win, and that recriminations play into the enemy's hands.

As for the other side, this right-wing blogger is convinced that the Republicans caved, while this RedState diarist not only agrees but takes it into Mark of the Beast territory.

Democrats, as a legislative minority, are in a weak position.  They have done much to stymie the Republicans despite that.  But there will be battles that cannot be won.  There will be battles that, being unwinnable, are best avoided entirely since fighting would cause political damage and gain nothing for anybody.  There will be times when compromise is the only possible way to win things which are essential.  If too many Democratic voters decide they cannot tolerate these realities, then in November they will fail to give our Congressional representatives the majorities they need to stand firm and really make it stick, and to start undoing the damage the Republicans are inflicting.  The Republican base's chronic suspicion of its establishment, and inability to recognize the limitations of power, have hobbled and divided our enemies.  The last thing we should do is imitate those things.

6 Comments:

Blogger Daniel Wilcox said...

I was angry that the Democrats gave in because it made it look like Trump won again and a loss for Dreamers.

However, upon reading your post, I see how your points make more sense, especially the one about "The issue was plainly that Democrats were refusing to let the funding bill pass because they were demanding something not related to it." Even though I hate it that more and more good people are going to get arrested to be deported while Congress argues and argues:-( in the coming months.

24 January, 2018 10:16  
Anonymous James Emerson said...

Well stated. I too was disappointed, but not surprised, by the visceral reaction to what superficially seemed like a betrayal, even though Democratic intransigence in the face of reality often leads to their political suicide. It makes me wonder if the fake news bots have infected the liberal media as well as the social media. BUT, we got CHIP moving forward and that is a very big win for us and America. Now the media spotlight is back on Trump, the GOP, the drip, drip, drip of the Mueller investigation, their betrayal of the working class, their wealthcare give-away, and their casting aside of longstanding political and governmental norms to put their party, and Putin, before country. They truly have become the enemies of our country, and deserve whatever retribution the voters in the upcoming 2018 and 2020 elections will bring them. My sense of this is to keep the media spotlight on them as much as possible. I'm confident that the citizenry will rebuke them for years to come...

24 January, 2018 11:40  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

(Reads the essay, then stands up and applauds)

Honestly, Infidel, I wish this could be posted to as many sites as possible. Well-written and spot-on.

24 January, 2018 17:31  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I myself agree with the democrats on this one ... I mean, I seen this shit coming (I actually followed it, and seen what kind of scam the republicans were running here ... so I KNEW dems were going to take a hit any way you slice it from the punditry). This is just really f*cked up too (that they play this crap, cause it's the people that suffer most), and it's ALL political, because of these crummy midterms. NO ... this is NOT the fault of democrats AT ALL, this is all designed by republican strategies to continue their stronghold. I been online now for 10 years or so, so I been following republicans plans for that long (which I didnt do before I got online), they been VERY clear, and even HONEST about their plans and agenda, on every issue whether financially or social issues. In fact, when all this shutdown shit was going down ... my first reaction was to toss DACA to the side and give in to the republicans, because it was like a no f'n win situation, so I think the dems done the right thing (and NO, to whoever reads this, I'm not a democrat, I vote democrat, but am independent). And immigrants should be able to see how they(dems) were hustled into this. I thought to post on it since I did in the past, but blew it off, because I have too much of this shit on my blog as it is. I just read your part and the HuffPost piece, not all links, because I'm firm on where I stand on this. ... Later

25 January, 2018 06:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. My impression from the sites I read is that after the first flush of disappointment, more people are now realizing that this move was the least bad option.

26 January, 2018 05:06  
Anonymous TomCat said...

Infidel, I fully agree and made many of the same points in my article.

26 January, 2018 11:45  

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