Who really won?

Shutdown3Viewpoint- Guest Editorial

By Dennis Brown

As usual, the chattering class got it wrong.  The common wisdom is that the government shutdown was a disaster for the Tea Party. It damaged their brand. They surrendered. People hate them. Their influence in the Republican Party has deteriorated. 

But look a little deeper.  After the second election of Barack Obama, there was talk about a progressive resurgence.  The progressive wish-list was a long one. Finally we would do something about Joblessness. Gun Control. Paid family leave. Universal pre-kindergarten. Women’s rights. End disenfranchisement of minority voters. Fight income inequality. Bring back manufacturing. Cut back the power of the Big Banks. The true aim of progressives at the beginning of the 21st century is to protect people against old and new insecurities. Empower individuals to achieve the potential that lies within them. Prepare ourselves for a more challenging future. Repair the infrastructure we have, and build the new one that the new century will need. Reduce military spending and use the dividend to improve the lives of our people.

None of this is on the table today. By shutting down the government for 16 days, and threatening the full faith and credit of the United States, the Tea Party has foreclosed any possibility of the government doing anything meaningful about any of these issues.  A newly empowered progressive bloc should be able to raise government spending to create jobs. Today, liberals lament, it’s not even possible to discuss it.

Government action to bring back manufacturing is similarly foreclosed. No responsible policy-maker can put forth any initiatives to rebuild our manufacturing base.  America’s was once the manufacturing wonder of the world, and it enabled us to control the outcomes of the two largest wars in history. Today we’ve hollowed out our economy and sent its vital organs to China. And we haven’t won a war since, unless you count beating up a bunch of medical students in Granada. This is another “problem” that progressives wish the government would solve. But there has been no meaningful discussion of this sorry record, with the exception of a recent flurry of conversation over whether losing generals should be fired.

It appeared that events dealt progressive advocates of gun control a winning hand. Repeated schoolyard shootings dominated the newspapers for weeks.  20 children and 6 adults in  Newtown Connecticut alone.   91% of Americans supported the idea of background checks for gun purchasers. Since 2008 there have been 48 mass shootings, where 4 or more people have died. You would expect that even the most inept politician who favored gun control could parlay these events into a winning hand. No one believes this will happen.

It is true that the public became disenchanted with the Tea Party as it hung its hat on defunding Obamacare. It is true that the public lost even more faith as the Republican party abandoned the Obamacare issue and the public saw the government shut down even as Republicans struggled to define what they were fighting for.  But the much, much larger issue has been won.  The window of acceptable political discussion, the range of solutions our polity is willing to discuss and consider for any problem the progressives deem important, have been confined only to those the Tea Party is willing to allow.


Dennis E. Brown, a marketing consultant residing in Thousand Oaks, CA, tells us that he is making a journey from Liberal to Conservative


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