Why Shutdowns Are Always Bad For Democrats
Here we are: day two of the anarchy that is a government shutdown.
With all 12 major government agencies shuttered, it has been harrowing indeed. The very fabric of our society is tearing. We can't go on much longer, can we?
In this edition of the partisan saga that rules DC, Democrats have refused a cloture vote on a temporary funding measure to keep the government open, effectively blocking any government spending until they are assured a win on DACA. Republicans have been quick to moralize, blaming Democrats for blocking House-approved funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program and "our troops," though that sentiment was somewhat undercut when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed a bill from Senator Claire McCaskill guaranteeing military pay and death benefits during government shutdowns.
Which is more important: continuing DACA or avoiding a shutdown?
National polling shows an electorate against the Democrats, with 56% of respondents saying that keeping the government open and is more important than delivering relief to DACA recipients, but Democrats have decided that the Republican ask—funding for the President's wall and immigration reform centered on merit—is too much political ground to concede. But if we're all being honest, all of this will almost certainly be done by midweek, with both parties emerging looking as dysfunctional as ever. All of that being said, no matter who comes out looking worse, any type of government shutdown is bad for Democrats.
Every time the government shuts down, most recently in 2013 for 16 days, people expect something noticeable to happen. If you are a nonessential government employee (national parks, museums, IRS, etc.) you may be furloughed and/or paid late depending on how long this lasts, and if you are waiting on tax returns, farm subsidies, VA benefits, or unemployment assistance you will likely have to wait, but the trains still run on time. Our military still goes to work (though a longer-lasting shutdown will lead to delayed paychecks), so does Congress, TSA employees, top-level executive employees, Air Traffic Control, and the US Postal Service. The police will still arrest you for committing a crime, and EMS will still take you to the hospital when you eat a Tide Pod.
Because these things usually do not last very long, many Americans often get the sense that essential-only government is pretty similar to the vast state we usually maintain. They do not visit national monuments on a daily basis, they do not work in non-essential federal jobs, and they do not collect farm subsidies. When most of the government shuts down, and not much happens, it could very well leave some people asking, how much of this government do we really need at all?