The shutdown and the debt ceiling have always been about more than just the budget and spending, and just about everyone who has been watching this knows that. It’s about one party re-fighting every election they lost: about the Republicans unable to accept the fact that other people from other parties get to live in the White House, and that they don’t always get their way. And even if they don’t win, they have to exert the most pain they can on the people they lost to and never mind any collateral damage. It’s all or nothing, and “nothing” is not an option.
Which is why it doesn’t surprise me to hear Republicans talking about winning at all costs, even if they don’t know what they want. It’s a matter of pride and honor on the level of samurais in Shogun; the slightest lack of due deference is punishable by death.
It’s not about the money. It never has been. The budget and the debt ceiling are the hostages here, the innocent bystanders who just happen to walk into the hold-up at the time the robbers pulled their guns and started shooting into the ceiling. That’s why you have Tea Partiers telling us that we can get along just fine with the government shut down and defaulting on our debt payments is actually a good thing.
As I’ve said more than once, it’s not about governing, it’s about ruling. There are people out there who want to control everything and have it their way with no equivocation, and they want to make sure of that, even if it means harming others. They have the long view that eventually it will all work out for the good. Kind of like the way preachers tell you that life stinks and God can destroy you, but cheer up, you’re going to Heaven if you do exactly what I say. The hitch in that plan is that you have to die first, but hey, that’s small potatoes compared to what’s waiting for you.
I have no idea how this will end, and anyone who says with certainty that they do is blowing smoke. But given the fanaticism and the pride at stake, it will not be with smiles and handshakes, and the damage done will take a generation to repair. (And no, this is not some gauzy attempt to go for the “both sides do it” argument. The blame falls squarely on the Republicans. They caused it, they can stop it, and
they we are the ones who will have to clean it up.) The worst part is that there is no guarantee that it won’t happen again and again. In fact, you can count on it.