As we enter day four of America’s first government shutdown in seventeen years, Republicans are, in fact giddy at their accomplishment. What is making them giddy is the fact that after threatening to do so for four years, they finally have found a way to shutdown the government. All it took was one Joseph McCarthy reincarnated senator from Texas and the nation’s worst Speaker of the House in history to make it happen. The rationale for the shutdown didn’t even make sense. It didn’t have to as long as Republicans reached their Holy Grail of shutting down the federal government. After all, it’s what all the Republican national leaders wanted or else somebody, anybody would have objected to the plan.
Herein lies the problem. Today’s Republican Party lacks any prominent national leader. Well, let’s rephrase that. Any prominent, rationale leader. John McCain has been pushed to the wayside. George W. Bush hasn’t left his ranch in five years. Chris Christie believes in the occasional bipartisan effort to fend off natural disasters so he has been largely ignored by the national party. John Huntsman has common sense and experience so naturally he is out. Anytime there is a void of leadership, people resort to listening to the person who is talking the loudest. As Michael J. Fox’s character in The American President says, “People want leadership. And in the absence of leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.”
Enter the Tea Party.
As Ted Cruz and his Tea Party suicide caucus proved last week, people will listen to you if you speak loud enough. And that is exactly what Cruz and his fellow demagogues did. They were able to convince the suicide caucus of Tea Party Republicans to go through with the shutdown idea. John Boehner feared losing his speakership and fell for their demands hook, line, and sinker. He was so scared of the Tea Party that he flat-out refused to bring a clean CR to the floor for a vote as he knew the more sensible members of his party would approve it in order to keep the government open.
When all is said and done, Republicans went through with their hair-brained idea and caused the government to shut down. They actually did it. They shut down the evil, hideous beast that calls itself Government. They celebrated on the floor of Congress with booze in hand. Michelle Bachman seemed as happy as she did when for some reason Iowa voters thought she was qualified to run for president. They gave thumbs up to the media and professed to be extremely united in their decision to shut down the government. They went home, slept for a few hours and woke up to the first government shutdown in seventeen years.
And now they have no clue what to do.
And yet, as it stands now, Republicans are already starting to panic after only three days. Recent polls are showing that a majority of the American people are blaming Republicans for the shutdown. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell can’t seem to figure out how to turn off their microphones. A congressman from Texas not named Gohmert blamed a park ranger for being out of a job. Eric Cantor is currently having budget negotiations with Clint Eastwood’s empty chair set from Ikea. Big businesses are beginning to turn on the Republican Party as the stock market staggers on. All this is going on and it is becoming more and more apparent that maybe, perhaps Republicans didn’t think this whole shutdown thing through.
The problems for the Republican party is that the blindly followed Cruz and the Tea Party Express straight into an endless tunnel. There’s a reason why no members of the Republican Party know what the ultimate goal is: They themselves don’t know. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell are absolutely scrambling to figure out how to not get blamed for what they did. Republicans are literally like a four year-old child who knocked over a glass in his room. They’re frantically looking for someone, something to blame and yet, when push comes to shove, they are the only person in the room.
At this point, nothing can be gained from the government shut down. The longer it goes on, the more people will feel the affects of it. It not only affects government employees, but their loved ones as well. More and more stories will come out like the one involving cancer patients potentially losing treatment during their clinical trials. More images will be shown of our veterans demanding to see the national monuments that they themselves created due to their heroism during World War II. Virginia, a traditional swing state, will see an influx of people shifting away from voting Republican and will move toward the Democratic Party. All this will be going on as the health care exchange begins to see its first round of enrollment and people actually being able to afford health care, many of them for the first time in their lives. Not a good combination if you are a Republican.
The Republican Party has staked its reputation on the idea that government is evil. They want to “drown it in a bathtub” as Grover Norquist once said. What’s most ironic about the shutdown is that the ultimate effect of it might end up being that people see how beneficial government can be in their everyday lives. They’ll be able to see that the government can help out with health insurance reform and can help provide them with a competitive marketplace in which to buy health insurance for them and their families. They’ll be able to see that government agencies like the FDA and EPA are needed to ensure our health and safety. They’ll be able to see how the National Institute of Health does groundbreaking research and treatment for cancer patients. They’ll be able to see how our government protects our beautiful landscape. Ultimately, what people will take away from the shutdown is the realization that the government does a lot of good things for the average American on any given day.
Assuming this was the Tea Party’s ultimate shutdown goal, then it’s definitely mission accomplished.