Reasonable and thoughtful people can argue and disagree about the pros and cons of the current federal government shut down. This is not the first, nor will this will not be the first or last shutdown we will see in our lifetime.
Every Congress and every President disagree. This is not novel. Ask Bill Clinton or read Ronald Reagan’s autobiography. So, the real question is: where do we go from here? And specifically, where do Speaker Boehner and House Republicans go from here?
Before I give my unsolicited advice, we need to look at the givens.
Given #1 – President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid are not going to negotiate. And if they did, it would be for a photo-op and not any cooperative , bipartisan consensus agreement.
Given #2 – Two-thirds of Americans think shutting down the government is a bad thing. That number will not drop for a variety of economic and perception reasons.
Given #3 – According to a Fox News poll, “A quarter of voters blame “Republican leaders such as John Boehner” (25 percent) for the shutdown and about the same number point the finger at President Obama (24 percent). Some 17 percent blame “Tea Party Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).” Just 8 percent blame “Democratic leaders such as Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).” Another 20 percent think all of them are responsible for the shutdown.”
Summation: these numbers will not improve for Republicans.
So we have an obstinate, take-my-ball-and-go-home president and his grumpy, get-off-my-lawn Senate Majority Leader (who is still bitter about being left out of the debt limit talks a couple of years ago).
So Republicans have made their bed and are forced to lie in it. While Democrats and their media pawns say caving in now is the best thing for the country, it is frankly the worst thing to do for our country in the short and long-term.
If Republicans equivocate and are seen as road kill now, there is not a chance in the world that spending cuts or entitlement reforms will be enacted. We will effectively have no real check on the White House and its voracious “give me more” coalitions.
The way Republicans recover as a brand – a brand currently about as popular as Miley Cyrus — is to have a strong message and coherent vision that resonates with voters concerned about our national interest and the country’s future. They will take Republicans serious when they act like leaders.
So the course Speaker Boehner should consider is this:
Our nation faces bankruptcy. We take in more then we spend. We are leaving our children and grandchildren with a debt that raising taxes can never cover.
Today’s working men and women are nearing a time where our currency will become worthless, where inflation will devour our savings and interest rates will reach a point where buying a home will be unaffordable.
Our nation faces a math problem. The numbers don’t add up.
Until President Obama sits down with House Republicans and negotiates a debt-limit ceiling vote and how to implement real, long-term cuts to offset increasing the debt ceiling, the government will stay shut down.
No more Band-Aid approaches to issues that affect every American. We don’t care if we lose the majority and stay in the minority for 20 years. Or longer.
We will no longer watch our nation become second-class. This out-of-control government growth stops now and we are willing take our electoral lumps to ensure our future is strong.
Senate and House Republicans need to fan out to their states and congressional districts and meet with editorial boards and news outlets. Take their message to civic groups, PTAs, churches and employers. Explain what is at stake long-term. Explain that time is not on our side.
They need to enlist Republican legislators to explain to their constituents what is at stake. This is an “all hands on deck” moment.
Republicans act like they don’t have numbers. They do. Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans have a majority of governorships and state legislators. Time to get up and like Howard Beale in “Network”:
“I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…You’ve got to say, I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation . . . . But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”
Republicans have gone down a path – probably a path of no return. The time for squabble and debate whether we should or should not have chosen this course is past us. Now is the time to man- or woman-up and simply say “Enough!”
Keep it shut down until America’s president acts like a leader and sits down, recognizes our financial problems and works with the duly elected members of Congress. It is the way our system was set up.