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Shutdown postmortem

Government Shut Down 2013 113th Congress

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#1 Spectacles

Spectacles
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Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:38 AM

Interesting analysis. I pretty much agree:

http://nymag.com/dai...egy-at-all.html

The Shutdown Was Not a Failed Strategy. It Wasn’t a Strategy at All
    By Jonathan Chait

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Pragmatic conservatives warned their tea-party brethren that shutting down the government would not harm Obamacare and would instead harm the Republican Party. And lo, both halves of the prophecy have now come to pass. New polls by CNN and the Washington Post measure the damage. Both polls show Democrats taking an 8-point lead in the generic ballot for Congress — a result that, if it held up, would likely depose the Republican majority. The election is a year away, and everybody expects the damage to subside. But deeper reputation damage can be detected. CNN asks voters if they consider each party “too extreme” or “generally mainstream.” By a 52 percent to 42 percent margin, they deem the Democrats generally mainstream. By a 56 percent to 37 percent margin, they call Republicans too extreme. The shutdown may not have been an act of suicide — there’s plenty of time to recover — but it was surely a suicidal gesture.


In the wake of the debacle, reporters and mortified Republican pragmatists alike have attempted to reconstruct the erroneous thinking that led the GOP to undertake a doomed strategy. There certainly were elements of legitimate miscalculation at play. (The simplest and least appreciated is that many of them initially believed shutting down the government would halt Obamacare, and by the time they learned otherwise, they had already printed up the T-shirts.)


In the most important ways, though, the tea party’s strategy was not a strategy at all. On the surface, demanding an end to Obamacare in return for reopening the federal government was an insane negotiating strategy. Attempting to analyze these demands in strategic terms misses the point. It’s not a plan to achieve a defined legislative end. It’s a demonstration of dissent from a political faction that has no chance of winning through regular political channels. The problem they are attempting to solve in each case is not “how do we achieve this policy objective?” but “how can we express our outrage?”

And outrage has been the driver of the GOP for many years now, ever since the Gingrich "Angry White Male Revolution" of the mid-90s--which also proved futile from a governing standpoint. Outrage has been the big cash cow for propagandists like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.  Conservative commentators have been very good at scaring people and riling them up over factually-challenged narratives of "real Americans" vs. "Anyone we disagree with."


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It is certainly unusual to see a major political party engaging in the politics of demonstration as though it were a marginal bloc of social activists. This reflects the deep vein of pessimism that has run through the right since the Obama era. I tried to capture it in my story a year ago, “2012 or Never,” which analyzed the widespread conservative belief that the last election represented a final chance for the old Reagan coalition to hold back Barack Obama’s America — which they imagined, in a distorted but not altogether false way, as racially polyglot and addicted to the spoils of redistribution.





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The pollster Stan Greenberg held extensive focus group discussions with tea party voters and described their worldview in detail. Their most intense and passionate belief was that Obama has used the power of expanded government to build a majority voting coalition:


the most passions among Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans — that big government is meant to create rights and dependency and electoral support from mostly minorities who will reward the Democratic Party with their votes. The Democratic Party exists to create programs and dependency — the food stamp hammock, entitlements, the 47 percent. And on the horizon—comprehensive immigration reform and Obamacare. Citizenship for 12 million illegals and tens of million getting free health care is the end of the road.


Lest this sound like a hostile exercise in anthropology, Pete Wehner, a former deputy to Karl Rove and Commentary blogger, endorsed his conclusion as “basically right.” Wehner’s own repeated (though unscientific) exposure to tea-party thought yielded the same grim conclusion:


they believe that America is at an inflection point. That we are about to enter into the land of no return. That demographic trends are all troubling and that the “takers” in America will soon outnumber the “givers.” That for many decades (or more) we’ve seen a “one-way ratchet toward ever bigger government.” And that a majority of Americans will become hooked on the Affordable Care Act like an addict to cocaine.

Wehner argues forcefully against this vein of fatalism. The Republican pragmatists believe Heritage, Ted Cruz, and other hucksters manipulated the tea party into endorsing a doomed maneuver.

The whole article is interesting.

Basically, it boils down to this: the GOP is being destroyed by the effectiveness of its own propaganda. It's made followers desperately concerned about the future of the country--a concern based mainly on an extreme caricature of The Left and Obama and a neat black/white, good/bad battle between the "takers" and the "givers."

Doesn't matter that it's 99% b.s. It works. People who believe the messengers on the right are in a state of desperation and righteous outrage. So they vote goobers into office who act out their despair and obstruct and posture and shut down the government to protest...."those takers!"

The good thing is that most of the country is tired of the hysteria. And as more find out that Obamacare isn't just something given to poor black and brown people, like the mythical "Obamaphone" they will be even less inclined to believe this crap.

Maybe then some semblance of sanity will return to the GOP.
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman



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