Right Opinion

Shutdown Follies

Bill Wagner · Jan. 23, 2018

It looks like the shutdown is shutting down. In exchange for the GOP agreeing to hold open debates over DACA and immigration, Democrats withdrew the filibuster that was holding up the budget deal and closing the government. Non-essential employees rejoice!

Because the GOP had always been prepared to discuss immigration as a separate issue and drew a line in the sand that they would not debate DACA unless Democrats dropped the shutdown, this is what’s known in the negotiating business as giving “ice in winter.” To the shock of those of us who had watched the GOP cave repeatedly over the years on shutdown rhetoric, the most important aspect was that the GOP stuck to its guns and presented a united front. Can anyone think of anything that’s different this time around? Maybe who’s in the White House?

Granted, Democrats handed the GOP a hanging curve ball by featuring amnesty for illegal aliens at the expense of Americans — their cause célèbre. But, traditionally, the issue didn’t matter. The GOP had always assumed it would lose the PR battle and acted accordingly. Kudos to Trump and the GOP leadership for fighting back. It’s a total cave by Democrats.

So what happened? The key is found in the polls and the reality of the 2018 Senate elections. Why the Democrats decided to hang their hat on illegal immigration amnesty in the first place is a mystery, but perhaps the only explanation is that the radical Left, which controls the checkbooks, demanded it and had historical reason to believe that the GOP would fold. But those Democrat senators up for re-election in states that Trump carried were apoplectic. Whatever slim chance they had to keep their seats was evaporating before their eyes as they pondered how to counter GOP ads that blamed them for undermining the military and shafting ordinary Americans just to give amnesty to illegal aliens. Schumer had enough votes in his pocket to allow a handful to vote with the GOP the first time around, but then the polls began to shift.

What was a double-digit edge that blamed the GOP for a generic shutdown turned into the opposite when the condition was added to the poll question that the shutdown was due to the Democrats favoring illegals over Americans. Enough Democrat senators revolted, and Schumer ran for cover. The Democrat base is livid, but this too shall change. The fact is that the political impact of a shutdown per se is not even close to the credit the media gives to it. Ten months is a lifetime, and any lingering thoughts about the shutdown will be dwarfed by things like the economy and foreign crises come election time. Even back in 2013, the absurd tactic used by the GOP to try to shut the government down if the Democrats didn’t take Obamacare off the table didn’t keep the GOP from racking up impressive wins in the next election.

The current Democrat shutdown gambit was more related to pacifying the leftist base and trying to set the negotiating tone for the rest of the year by rolling Trump. They gambled and lost, and now the leverage rests with Trump and the GOP. Democrats would have had much stronger DACA and general immigration arguments if they had just backed the CR. We still have a budget to agree to, and there is no guarantee that either that or anything substantive on DACA or immigration will get done. But the Democrats relied on generating more Trump hatred to prep the battlefield, and now they look silly. Good for our team. Now let’s see if we can follow through.

Campaign bumper sticker slogans built around the GOP being responsible for all that extra cash in your pockets while the Democrats are the folks who voted unanimously to block tax cuts and favored illegal immigrants over regular Americans has a good ring to it.

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