On the Shutdown Deal

This is a good piece by Jim Newell at Slate explaining "Why Democrats Caved," striking a deal with Republicans that seems like a shitty and incredibly stupid deal on its face: Agreeing to reopen the government at current spending levels for another 17 days in exchange for a promise from Mitch McConnell "to debate immigration through regular order after Feb. 8 if no deal is struck beforehand."

No deal is going to be struck beforehand. And McConnell will almost certainly break his promise.

Because these two things are manifestly obvious to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to Congressional politics, many people quite understandably feel like the Democrats made a bad deal for no reason.

But there is one big reason, as Newell notes (emphasis mine):
No one could really say the truth about why Democrats accepted this offer from McConnell: that it was the best they were going to get.

This shutdown was always going to be decided by the "blame game," as annoying as that is to say. As each side made their arguments in recent days, Republicans had the more straightforward one — Democrats were responsible for the shutdown because they filibustered a funding bill in order to secure something else. A DACA fix is popular; shutting down the government over one is much less so, especially in many of the states Senate Democrats are trying to hold in November. The polling was beginning to gravitate in Republicans' favor.

"I hear our numbers are dropping like a rock," Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York told Bloomberg on Monday.

There is no compelling evidence that rejecting McConnell's offer would have resulted in a better outcome for Democrats.
That is: The Democrats had lost before they even began. The question was only how much they were going to lose.

As far as I can tell, the Democrats got the best they could, which was nothing. And they would have gotten worse than nothing otherwise, because every Republican in Congress would have been jumping in front of every mic and camera they could find to blame the Democrats, and because Donald Trump would have spent all day every day tweeting that the Democrats were at fault, and because our political press is fucking garbage, and would have breathlessly reported each one of those tweets, without the context that Trump is a liar and that's not how responsibility works when your party rules the executive and legislative branches of the government.

Sure, I get it. Be angry at the Democrats, who constantly make strategic errors. But they are, truly, the least of our problems in this situation. The Republicans are primarily at fault, because they are actively trying to destroy the federal government. And the second largest share of the blame goes to the political press, who still insist on covering this president and his loathsome party like business as usual.

"Both sides" was always wrong. But it is wrong in a way that is complicit when one side has all the power and opts to use that power to pursue an agenda of white supremacist, nativist authoritarianism.

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