On Monday, Democrats caved on their manufactured government shutdown. In an attempt to generate a groundswell of support for a legislative re-enshrinement of former President Obama's executive amnesty, Democrats filibustered a continuing resolution to fund the government. That tough stance lasted precisely three days. Then, Democrats voted overwhelmingly with Republicans to fund the government in its entirety for another three weeks.
This makes the second government shutdown in the last five years; back in 2013, the Republicans refused to fund then-President Obama's Affordable Care Act and then collapsed and fully funded it for nothing in return. That followed a government shutdown in 1995-1996 that ended after nearly a month, with Republicans receiving nothing from then-President Bill Clinton. And that government shutdown followed the one in November 1995, when Republicans received merely an agreement from President Clinton to balance the budget within seven years.
Notice a pattern? The president always wins government shutdowns. Congress never does.
Why is that? It's because Americans now buy into the urgency of funding the government fully. We've been trained for years that any government shutdown imperils us all: The zombie apocalypse is coming. The media have aided the cause of a growing government admirably here. This week, CNN ran a segment suggesting that a government shutdown could prevent us from tracking an inbound asteroid that could wipe out all life on Earth. Then we wonder why so many Americans are so deeply disturbed at the possibility of a shutdown that would allow Medicare and Social Security to operate largely unimpeded, that would allow the Veterans Affairs hospitals to remain open and military function to continue (though pay would be backlogged).
We also have been trained for years that the power of the purse is in the hands of the Congress, not the executive. That means we see the Congress as the party most responsible for passing legislation the president will sign, not the president as the party most responsible for agreeing with Congress. And that means that the president's priorities take center stage when dealing with Congress, even though the president is oftentimes the person holding up government funding.
Here, in essence, is the problem: We're addicted to government. The population is addicted to the notion that the government operates without the bumps and breaks uniquely built into the American system; the media are addicted to the daily show of government; the members of government are happy to keep spending cash and scare the life out of constituents when the spending stops.
Make no mistake: The Democrats' strategy and rationale for the government shutdown was awful. But if Americans have been so conditioned to panic regarding such shutdowns that 69 hours — 48 of them over a weekend — drive us to fever pitch, we have much bigger problems than a few lost work hours.