Government shutdowns are not cancer and today I’ll show why we must stop taking the bait. Indeed, I’ll show why we will lose elections if we are unwilling to shut down the government in order to protect human life and reform immigration policy.
CNN’s Dana Bash did not speak much during last week’s presidential debate—but, when she did, she succeeded in corralling GOP candidates into a corner. The corner of accepting her wobbly tri-fold premise:
1. Shutdowns cost Republicans elections.
2. Shutdowns are akin to national disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
3. Anytime we shut down the government, Republicans are 100% responsible for any associated inconveniences, costs or disgruntled federal employees.
Gov. John Kasich directly stated his fear of shutdowns during the debate. Gov. Chris Christie hemmed and hawed. And, if silence is consent—many other candidates seemed to sanction Bash’s premise through silence. To briefly recap:
BASH: “Governor Kasich, Senator Cruz is so committed from stripping funds from Planned Parenthood that it could result in shutting down the federal government in just about two weeks. Do you agree with Senator Cruz' tactic?”
(Kasich and Bash go back and forth)
BASH: “Yes or no, do you support this shutdown?”
Eventually, Kasich concedes: “I’m not for shutting the government down because I don’t think it’s going to work out.”
Kasich accepted Bash’s premise. He also is not leading in the polls. The post-debate Michigan Republican Primary Poll put him at 2 percent. Clearly, it does not pay to cave. Nevertheless, Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell think caving is a strategy. McConnell said last week that shutting down the government to reform “Planned Parenthood” or “immigration” would be an “exercise in futility.”
Saving the life of one baby or securing the border and thus the safety of over 319 million Americans would certainly be worth the inconvenience of a temporary shutdown. If human lives do not move you, Sen. McConnell, allow me to further peel back Bash’s premise:
First, shutdowns win elections. Bash may prefer a Democrat in the White House, which is why she is scaring Republicans into not doing what their base would love to see them do: defund Planned Parenthood and secure our border. Proof: we shut part of the government down for two weeks, October 1-16 of 2013, and Republicans won the 2014 midterms by a landslide.
I know this is confusing for McConnell now that he is under Sen. Harry Reid’s spell. So, I’ll rephrase: Democrats hate shutdowns because they know they will lose elections. Reid does not want Americans to realize that they can get by without every aspect of our Democrat-controlled multi-layered bureaucracy.
Secondly, government shutdowns in the United States are first world problems that amount to minor nuisances. No one is dying when some of our federal offices—of which we have too many—temporarily close their doors.
Federal employees will invariably receive pay so, for them, a shutdown can feel like a paid vacation. Of course, those living paycheck-to-paycheck may hurt. Never fear, I have a humanitarian solution! This is the perfect opportunity for wealthy elites like Warren Buffett to put their money where their mouth is and pay more in taxes. What’s not to love?
Politicians will claim that a shutdown will cause delays at the airport, impacting everyday Americans. In reality, bureaucrats fear that such delays would cause Americans to demand the privatization of our airport security. So, the silver lining of shutdown-induced airline delays is that we could move toward eliminating ineffective, intrusive and unhealthy TSA scanner zaps and pat-downs.
Third, Republicans must stop giving away their power. No one can blame you for something you did not do unless you admit to doing that which you did not do. As I discuss in Let Me Be Clear, we’ll never win Millennial swing voters by caving. Caving is not a strategy for winning.
The President shuts the government down with his veto pen—not Congress. Technically, Congress could write and pass a budget bill that removes funding from Planned Parenthood and put it on Obama’s desk. If he vetoes, then he is solely to blame for inconveniencing Americans with a shutdown in order to save an organization that profits from the sale of baby body parts.
Bash can bully us, but there is no use denying that Sen. Cruz (on defunding Planned Parenthood) and Donald Trump (on reforming immigration) have confirmed the words of Rush Limbaugh: We must “get over this fear [of being blamed for a shutdown]. You have to do what's right. There are legions of Americans willing to support you.”
We will take our power back by refusing to take their bait. Share this post with your fellow fishes so they don’t bite on a worm that’s hiding beneath a jagged hook.