With the collapse of the defund Obamacare, many conservatives are looking for the next step in the fight to stop the most damaging piece of law in generations before its full implementation. The answer to that question lies in lessons learned over the past several weeks. In fact, it lies in the only part of the defunding strategy that had any marked impact on the narrative: piecemeal funding of the government.
The latest Republican cave should teach conservatives two particular lessons. First, crisis politics never benefit conservatives. When there is a crisis, the side with the media at its back and unity in its caucus will always win. That side is the Democrats. Crises do not work to conservatives’ advantage; the left can simply demonize conservatives by suggesting that their stance against massive government interventionism is a stance against the American people. In the fact of that pressure, the fractious Republican caucus is likely to buckle.
Second, the American people understand and like funding on a case-by-case basis. When Republicans passed an individual bill funding vital defense concerns, President Obama was forced to sign it, even despite his moratorium on signing funding without doing so for the whole federal ball of wax.
On January 15, America is slated to require a new continuing resolution. President Obama is itching for a replay of this fight closer to the November 2014 midterm elections. Republicans should not give it to him. Instead, they should spend every day between now and then passing individual spending bills and forcing Democrats to reject them in the Senate, or President Obama to veto them. Then the creation of a funding crisis itself will be on President Obama from the start. This also happens to be the way the founders envisioned funding the government, rather than through massive, pork-filled omnibus packages.
Can Republicans win victories by controlling the purse? They sure can, but only if they don’t wait until President Obama and the Democrats demand, at the point of bayonet, that Republicans open the vault. Instead, Republicans should pay the bills one at a time, just the like other Americans do. Then we’d be spared the drama and the crisis – or, at the very least, the cynical dramatics of watching the President of the United States and his Senate Majority Leader henchman claim that Republicans are the bad guys, even as they kill hundreds of spending bills even their own constituents like.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).