I received an email from Emily’s List last night, lecturing me about how very very wicked the Republicans are for bringing us to the brink of a government shutdown. “They’re willing to shut down the government, willing to abuse the Democratic process, to deny millions of Americans access to health care,” the rant began.
If you ever gave money to any Democratic political candidate, you’re receiving a torrent of these emails now. They’re passionate, and outraged, and I suppose that if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention, right?
None of these emails care will take the time to acknowledge an important truth, however: The Democratic Party shares in the blame for the current political mess involving what will probably be at least a partial government shutdown.
How are the Democrats to blame? Isn’t it the Republicans who wrote legislation that would shut down the government unless Barack Obama’s health care reform law is prevented from going into effect?
Sure, the Republicans are being horrible. But think, now, Democratic partisans, who taught the Republicans to be horrible like this? Deep in your kicking donkey souls, you know it was Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress.
Every time the House Republicans have played their game of threatening to shut down the federal government, Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders have rewarded the Republicans for doing so.
When the Republicans threatened to shut down the government, Barack Obama rewarded them by offering to extend tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
When the Republicans threatened to shut down the government again, Barack Obama rewarded them again, by making harsh cuts to domestic programs.
When the Republicans threatened to shut down the government yet again, Barack Obama rewarded them a third time, by granting them the sequester, involving even more severe budget cuts – cuts to science, cuts to education, cuts to help for pregnant women, cuts to food stamps. Oh, and Barack Obama gave the Republicans cuts to health care, too. So adamant has President Obama been about preserving this particular gift to the GOP, in fact, that Obama has declared he will veto any legislation attempting to overturn the health care budget cuts.
Democratic political organizations like to pretend that the sequester was all the Republicans’ idea. They ask us to forget that it was Barack Obama’s brilliant idea. They told us that Barack Obama was playing a very intelligent chess game, in which short term political sacrifices would be necessary. They told us that the sequester would prevent more brinksmanship over federal government shutdowns.
So, Democratic chess masters, after years of Barack Obama sacrificing us pawns, where are we?
Yes, the Republicans are at it again, and why would they not be? The GOP has been taught by Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership of Congress that threatening federal government shutdowns is an effective tactic. They’re like Pavlov’s dogs, taught to salivate at the ringing of a bell.
Another truth that you won’t hear openly acknowledged by Democratic political organizations is that the Democratic leadership actually likes it when the Republicans threaten government shut down. No, it’s not because the Republicans are being stupid and falling into a Democratic trap. It’s because Democratic political organizations know that they can rake in the cash whenever the Republicans start making their big threats.
The Emily’s List email, after reminding me of how evil and dangerous the Republicans are in threatening a federal government shut down, ask me to take action.
Does Emily’s List want me in the streets, protesting against the federal government shutdown? No.
Does Emily’s List want me to write letters to the editor, or call my member of Congress, or canvass my neighborhood, or organize activist meetings? No.
Emily’s List writes, “I need you to help. Tomorrow is the end of the quarter. And our goal of 40,000 grassroots donations isn’t going to cut it. We need every single one of you on board right now to reach our new goal of 45,000 grassroots donations. Contribute immediately. We can’t wait.”
Emily’s List wants you to respond to the federal government shutdown crisis by giving money to Emily’s List.
With that money, will Emily’s List be able to prevent a federal government shutdown? No.
With that money, will Emily’s List be able to stop Barack Obama from giving more rewards to the Republicans? No.
What Emily’s List will get is more money for itself.
I am confident that the Republican equivalents to Emily’s List are doing just about the same thing. They’re sending passionate emails to everyone on their mailing lists, warning about how the evil Democrats are about to ruin everything, and then, asking for money.
Like the Democratic organizations, the Republican groups will warn that, “We don’t have time to dwell on this.” It’s an old trick from the hawkers on the New Jersey boardwalk. Create a false sense of urgency, and people are much more likely to spend money. Really, we do have time to dwell on the congressional elections of 2014, which is the distant target that Emily’s List and all the other political organizations will spend that money on, buying influence for themselves.
Americans like to shake their heads and wonder aloud, “What’s wrong with politics in Washington D.C., that we keep on having these showdowns over the shutdown of the federal government?”
Let me answer that question for you: What’s wrong with politics is that the American people, Republican and Democrat alike, are allowing themselves to be manipulated like Pavlov’s dogs. Republican and Democratic politicians know that every time they ring the bell of a federal government showdown, Americans will respond by releasing loads of cash.
There’s one thing that would stop the cycle political theater over threatened government shutdowns: Americans need to stop responding to political organizations’ requests for money. When groups like Emily’s List ring the bell of government shutdown, and ask for cash, just don’t give any. They’ll keep trying for a little while, but eventually, the withdrawal of rewards will lead to the extinction of the problematic behavior.