If past experience is any guide, government shutdowns seldom go according to plan. But that hasn’t stopped some from cheering a blackout.
Over at the Washington Post, Elizabeth Bruenig dares Democrats to do it because of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Once the government goes dark, Democrats will unite, Republicans will fall back, and presumably, the electorate will reward the new obstructionists with majorities come November. Though interesting, that’s about as realistic as conservative hopes that former President Barack Obama would put the brakes on his healthcare law.
What’s more, a shutdown would likely play into the administration’s hands. As my colleague Tom Rogan points out, where Democrats have drawn red lines, President Trump has made a show of flexibility. That's the only characteristic voters will remember when assigning blame. But it’s the unknown which should give Democrats pause.
A civil war could be at the bottom of Pandora’s box. The GOP devoured itself after the 2013 shutdown. Just like Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Mike Lee, of Utah, faced a “lynch mob” for their role, shutdown conspirators should be prepared for a similar fate. Red state Democrats won’t take kindly to their more radical progressive colleagues. The fall out would shape the party for decades.
Perhaps most important of all, the political status quo favors Democrats right now. They are poised to take back the House and positioned to make a decent play at the Senate. Why risk a catastrophe when victory seems imminent?