Of course they caved.
With a shutdown of the government looming, Democrats insisted that they needed a resolution for DACA and funding for CHIP. The first would settle the immigration status of children who arrived illegally into the US and the second would cover health insurance for millions of low income children.
The Republicans offered only CHIP.
The shutdown was triggered over the weekend and before the breathless media could fully discuss who was at fault and who the voters would blame, the Democrats caved. They agreed to fund the government in exchange for a promise of Senate consideration for a DACA bill.
Mighty thin gruel.
But let’s be honest here: shutting down the government is not what Democrats are for.
GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan wants smaller government. GOP Senator Rand Paul wants no government.
The Democrats want effective government.
When the GOP shut down the government in 2013 under the Obama White House, for every day the government shutdown, for every government employee who sighed and decided to just take early retirement, the Republicans got what they wanted.
Democrats shutting down the government is like the NRA boycotting gun manufacturers until they are allowed to buy bazookas. It’s like an accordion player going on strike and refusing to play unless he gets a solo. It’s like North Koreans refusing to further their nuclear program until they get peace talks.
Democrats shutting down the government is giving the Republicans what they want until the Republicans capitulate. It’s a strategy that serves the other side and it makes no sense.
A more ideologically aligned threat would be to keep Obamacare enrollment open until the GOP reopens negotiations on healthcare mandates. Or to make all the coastal National Parks free until Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reconsiders offshore drilling. Or extend tourist visas to 365 days until DACA status has been resolved. That would be hurting the Republicans and encouraging them to come to the table.
Of course, the Democrats as the minority party can’t do any of these things. All it can do, is to say no.
The latest episode of This American Life has Ben Calhoun trying to figure out what the Democratic Party stands for. It could do worse than being the Party of Yes.
Yes We Can.
Yes We Will.
Yes to the Future.
We already have one major American party that is the Party of No. We can’t afford to have two.