Erick Erickson's shutdown fantasy: Have GOP hurt people, then lie about it!

Leading alpha male tells GOP to shut down the government over Obamacare, wait out the pain, then blame it on Obama

Published November 19, 2014 11:58AM (EST)


Erick Erickson, conservative blogger and hypermasculine alpha male, wants the Republicans to shut down the government again. He wants the GOP to precipitate a shutdown fight by passing an appropriations bill that defunds the Affordable Care Act and blocks executive action on immigration, which he rightly predicts President Obama will veto. The Republican leaders in Congress don’t really want to shut the government down, and it’s pretty safe to assume that most of America doesn’t want a shutdown either.

But Erick Erickson thinks it’s a great idea. Why? Because the last shutdown (in October 2013) didn’t hurt the Republicans at the ballot box, so it’s safe to assume that another shutdown won’t either:

This is the second shut down where the GOP got blamed and saw no catastrophe at the ballot box. Again, after the shutdown the Clinton years, the GOP picked up Senate seats.

Every horror story every talking head within the GOP Establishment trotted out to scare congressmen and senators into caving turned out to be crap.

This is pretty specious argumentation. He’s right that Republicans weren’t punished for Ted Cruz’s Obamacare-inspired government shutdown. Another equally good way to not be punished for shutting down the government is to not shut down the government. But with the Affordable Care Act’s second enrollment period proceeding smoothly and more and more people signing up for coverage, the avenues for dismantling the law entirely are just about exhausted.

All that’s left is the shutdown, which Erickson seems to think will work if the Republicans are stoic enough to ride out the public opinion drubbing they would invariably take and wait until everyone gets so disgusted with persistent dysfunction that, somehow, the president will cave and agree to dismantle his biggest policy achievement:

So set the course. Defund Obamacare and block amnesty. Obama can defy the will of the people and refuse to work with Congress. Sure, the GOP may get blamed. But so what?

And that is key here — so what. They got blamed last time and the public rewarded them with the biggest election wave in modern American political history from the local level to the federal level.

Block Obama. Let him show himself again to be the petulant man-child Americans have started recognizing. And this time, when he shuts down the government, keep it shut till you have your way and then hold public hearings to show how Obama selectively shut things down to hurt the voters intentionally.

At the end of the day, there is no other choice. Either the President will cave to a Congress just elected to stop him or the GOP will cave to a President no one likes.

A better way of looking at this is that Erick Erickson is explicitly advocating that the Republican Party deliberately cause people real pain, and then lie about it for political benefit. Here, in this post, Erickson tells Republicans to shut down the government and then turn around and blame the president for hurting voters by shutting down the government. And he’s doing it all under the assumption that voters either won’t care or won't realize what the Republicans are doing. (Incidentally, Erickson thinks that Jonathan Gruber’s comments about voters being too “stupid” to realize what politicians are actually doing are highly scandalous.)

The strategy is to quite blatantly make everything about government as shitty as possible for as long as possible until Republicans get their way. The last time the GOP shut down the government, workers were furloughed, billions of dollars in economic activity was lost, and job creation suffered – and that shutdown lasted just two weeks. A longer shutdown would mean veterans losing benefits, poor families losing nutritional assistance, halting food safety inspections, and countless other needlessly painful interruptions of government services.

Erickson wants to inflict that pain on voters (with the end result being the termination of the program that’s successfully expanding access to healthcare) and his justification is “whatever, we won’t be blamed.”

By Simon Maloy

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