What’s Left: A Quick Recovery

In reality the government shutdown had much less of an impact than most news outlets reported. Most government employees put out of work are receiving pay for the days they missed and the government is not headed for default. Even though the government lost a lot of money by being closed, it can be quickly fixed.  Sure, the shutdown was a hassle, an inconvenience and a pretty pathetic display of consensus-building from the legislative branch, but it is over now, and we can move forward.

So will there be any lasting fallout from the shutdown? In my opinion, voting results in 2014 will not truly reflect anything that can be specifically linked to the shutdown. Sure, the approval ratings of the Republican Party are outstandingly low, national dislike for Ted Cruz is fairly unified and the American people agreed in overwhelming consensus that the shutdown was bad for the nation, but 2014 is a long way away, at least in political time. Changes are coming in the House and Senate but not because of the shutdown specifically. The shutdown was an illustration of the discord in the Republican party, where diversity of opinion is met with vitriol and exclusion. The Democratic party, while host to a diversity of opinion (see Elizabeth Warren and Mark Pryor) is all united in thought and action with regard to the shutdown; the Republican party split on the eve of shutdown and a growing faction (led by Peter King, R-NY) supported a “clean” fix to reopen the government since the beginning.

The Republican Party is headed down a dangerous path. The Tea Party continues to force conservative candidates to head to the right or face a brutal and expensive primary challenge. Its continued existence threatens the feasibility of a united GOP undermines any sort of power that John Boehner can wield in the House and, from a philosophical standpoint, doesn’t allow more pragmatic lawmakers to succeed.

But, as per Tip O’Neill, “all politics is local.” The approval ratings of the GOP as a national entity are historically low, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to individual successes or failures. Voters in South Dakota have no effect on candidates in Georgia, nor does anything that I say or do have any effect on candidates outside of my

congressional district.

Instead, the major takeaways of the shutdown are twofold. First, President Obama showed some real courage in his steadfast negotiation that resembled Ronald Reagan. Instead of bowing to pressure to put government employees back to work and reopen National Parks, Obama (with support from Reid and Pelosi) stood fast against, in his words, “negotiation with a gun to my head.”

Second, and most importantly, the disunity in the Republican Party will give credence to a Democratic nominee in 2016 poised to take the White House. The Republican Party can’t agree on fairly simple issues such as the debt limit, gay marriage, marijuana legalization and a host of other issues that don’t really impact the short and long-term goals of the GOP, but are supported by a majority of Americans. These cross-cutting cleavages will create a very exciting primary season for the Republicans, but will force candidates to adopt viewpoints they don’t necessarily agree with (see Mitt Romney, 2012). I am hard-pressed to find the difference between Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton in anything but name and life experience. This unity will make for a fairly boring primary season, but it means that the winner is poised to win the support of the entire Democratic Party. It’s going to be very hard for Republicans to recover.

Contact Andy Philipson at [email protected]