How the Other Side Sees the Shutdown Battle

I’ve been getting inundated with fundraising emails from the Democrats over the last few days, each one more hysterical than the last. This one ostensibly came from Barack Obama, on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

From: Barack Obama
Subject: This has gone too far

John —

This has gone too far.

House Republicans are threatening to shut down the government — and potentially default on our bills for the first time in history — because they want to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

Well let me state this as clearly as I can: I won’t let the Republicans prevent 30 million people from getting health insurance, and I won’t let them inflict economic pain on millions more just so they can make an ideological point.

But I need you standing with me. That’s why I’m asking you to step up before this fundraising deadline and help me defend everything we’ve fought for together:

Click here to give $3 or more today and your donation will be triple-matched.

House Republicans are promising to roll back all the hard-earned economic progress we’ve made.

I need you to show them that you won’t stand for it.


Barack Obama

That’s pure fiction, of course, but no doubt it’s effective fundraising, too. The next one came from While I don’t necessarily believe anything MoveOn says, I think their belief that a shutdown is a political opportunity for Democrats is sincere:

Dear MoveOn member,

Big news: Republicans just announced that they will only allow the federal government to stay open if President Obama agrees to delay implementation of Obamacare.

The New York Times says the announcement “all but assured that large parts of the government would be shuttered as of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.”

This is not a drill. After years of threats, Speaker John Boehner and the Tea Party are about to shut down the government for real, with millions of Americans losing access to vital services, hundreds of thousands of public servants unpaid, and a big blow to our economic recovery.

We can’t stop the Tea Party from trying to push America’s economy off a cliff, but we can make sure they pay a steep political price like they did in 1995 so that they finally stop this nonsense. Our plan is to start by putting targeted web ads on Facebook and other websites targeting the most vulnerable Republicans facing reelection next year and then keep up the pressure till the Republicans give up on these outrageous demands.

The Tea Party’s popularity has already sunk to near-record lows, and if the shutdown backfires, it could send the entire Republican Party into a tailspin. But time is of the essence—we need to raise $200,000 in the next 24 hours to power our rapid response campaigning and give us the ad budget we need to hold the Republicans accountable. Can you chip in $3 today?

Yes, I’ll chip in $3 right away to hold Tea Party Republicans accountable.

The GOP has descended into chaos and infighting—literally yelling at each other on the Senate floor. The shutdown—while terrible for America—is a big opportunity to go on offense and send the Tea Party into permanent decline.

MoveOn has launched an ambitious campaign to discredit Tea Party Republicans and expose their 1% backers—to hold them accountable for threatening to sabotage our economy and trying to subvert our democracy. We’ll keep them on the defensive in the short term and ensure that no one forgets their reckless hijinks as elections approach next year.

After four straight years in which Tea Party Republicans have forced a job-killing austerity agenda down our throats [Ed.: Do these people lead a rich fantasy life, or what?], their reckless decision to risk a government shutdown finally has them on their heels. If they follow through, we’ll have a historic opportunity to expose just how extreme they are.

We’ll need to move quickly and speak forcefully to win the debate and bring about a repeat of 1995. That was the year Newt Gingrich and House Republicans shut down the government because they refused to negotiate with President Clinton. They paid for it dearly. Now, it’s on us to ensure this time is no different. If we play our cards right, 2013 could become known as the year the Tea Party relegated itself to the dustbin of history.

Our campaign includes rapid response ads and press outreach, as well as long-term strategies to discredit the Tea Party and take away its power, including pushing PBS stations to air “Citizen Koch,” the thus-far-censored documentary exposing the Koch Brothers as the Tea Party’s 1% financiers. We’ll also shine a spotlight on positive alternatives to the Tea Party’s agenda, including a higher minimum wage to tackle income inequality. And we’re amassing a war chest to ensure that this week is one everyone will remember well into next year. But first things first—the next few hours and days are crucial, and to win this fight, we all need to pitch in.

Click here to donate $3 to help take advantage of this historic opportunity.

Together, MoveOn’s 8 million members have tremendous people power. Let’s go all in together to seize this opportunity and send the Tea Party packing.

Thanks for all you do.

One thing is for sure: among Democrats, references to the Tea Party are like catnip. They can barely contain their seething rage at citizens who have the temerity to speak their minds.

But are the Democrats right? Are Republicans committing political suicide? I don’t think so, mostly because the “shutdown,” when it comes, will be anticlimactic. The government services that most people care about won’t shut down at all, and some resolution will be reached within a matter of days. Ho hum. Still, poll results consistently show that more voters will “blame” Republicans than Democrats for any shutdown. A broad array of poll data are collected here; while the numbers jump around and depend, as always, on what question is asked, that conclusion is inescapable.

Also consider this: President Obama has had weak approval ratings for months, but in recent days they have suddenly rebounded. Scott Rasmussen now has Obama at 51/48 approval/disapproval, his best showing since June. Moreover, Democrats are rallying around the president, with more of them (and Democrat-leaning independents) saying they “strongly approve” of his performance. As a result, Obama’s approval index–the difference between those who strongly approve and who strongly disapprove–stands at -9, Obama’s best number in a long time.

It seems obvious that Obama’s bounce is due to the fact that he is seen to be taking on Republicans aggressively, and thereby shoring up his base.

Republicans are strongly aware of the fact that legislative battles like the current standoff over Obamacare fire up conservatives, but they sometimes lose sight of the fact that such conflicts have exactly the same effect on liberals. Given that polls show that a plurality of voters side with the Democrats on the shutdown–probably due, more than anything, to biased press coverage of the issue–the drama we are now seeing unfold will probably be a net political minus for Republicans. But a small one: like the sequester, and like previous shutdowns at both the federal and state levels, most people will see the political fuss as much ado about nothing.

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