The Not-so-Great Government Shutdown of a Very Tiny Portion of 2018

Yesterday a sixteen year-old Texas boy used a semi-automatic .380 handgun to shoot a 15-year-old girl inside the cafeteria of an Ellis County (Texas) school. The boy has been arrested; the girl, hospitalized.

Texas officials hurriedly gathered to re-examine the lax gun laws in that state and have begun serious discussions about banning assault weapons entirely.

Okay, the first paragraph was true. If you fell for the second one, then you’ll enjoy waiting for Mitch McConnell to give DACA a “level playing field” when the issue comes up again within the next three weeks.

Look, I’m not going to berate the Congressional Democrats for this. The Republicans were not going to give in: they had no reason to. If they did, they knew that a month, six months, a year from now the Democrats would do it again. Blackmailers never have enough, regardless of the party.

Further, whatever you think of DACA—and a huge majority of Americans want the so-called Dreamers to stay—it isn’t the most important factor engaging most Americans. The economy is, and taxes, and maybe infrastructure, and the military. The optics are not good when a party implies that the wellbeing of 800,000 young people trumps the wellbeing of a nation. Empathy only goes so far. We all know that these factors are not mutually exclusive, but the strain of racism that currently runs through the Republican Party and has spread to the Trump base and beyond, is a major factor here. To wit, an offensive TV ad ran this past weekend, calling Democrats complicit in any murder committed by any immigrant. Sarah “Huckleberry” Sanders defended it, nobody made a big deal about it, and on we go.

This is the toxic atmosphere in which the Democrats tried to prove a point, failed, and then conceded.

It wasn’t a great shutdown after all, just a plain one. It hurts. Think of how dull a movie entitled The Escape would have been. That word great really helps. And who would have paid money to see The Regular Train Robbery? or visited the Regular Pyramid? And what if Charles Dickens’s reputation rested on Regular Expectations, or Fitzgerald’s on The Regular Gatsby?

No, this was just a run-of-the-mill shutdown. Quite a letdown.

Standing firm would have been nice, especially as a follow-up to the weekend’s women’s marches. But I can’t envision an ending that would have benefited any Democrat. Remember, the Republicans in 2013 tried the same ploy in the face of the unpopular Obamacare and got nowhere—but have ruled Congress ever since.

The best hope remains what it was before Friday’s shutdown—voting in November to get these fools and liars out of Washington. Splintering the Democratic party over one issue—as significant as it is—will not bring us closer to that goal but will, instead, fortify and embolden Trump, Miller, and the rest of the clown car full of, well, clowns.

So we lost that game. Pure and simple. Now you tip your hat and go on to the next one. And do better. But that requires having a team at least as good, and maybe smarter than the one that lost. Maybe a great team. Lots of little weak ones will only continue to lose.

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