Four Lessons From the Shutdown

By:  Charles Scaliger
Four Lessons From the Shutdown

Anyone who believed at the beginning of the last government shutdown that Republicans were going to stand on principle to the bitter end hasn’t been paying attention.

With the recent partial government shutdown now behind us, the jubilant mainstream media and triumphalist Democrats are declaring total victory for the Obama administration, the new regime of quasi-socialized medicine known as ObamaCare, and the cause of Big Government generally. Indeed, as they always have in the past, the Republican leadership — at least, those who currently enjoy the perks of seniority in the House and Senate — caved ignominiously and unconditionally to their Democratic adversaries, in this case Barack Obama and his Senate attack dog, Harry Reid.

Post-shutdown Republican establishment rhetoric positively reeks of embarrassment at the cadre of Young Turks who, for a few glorious days at least, appeared to have wrested the reins of leadership from a GOP establishment that never met a Big Government initiative or a debt limit increase that they could not find a way to accommodate. But in the end, the establishment got its way, and Washington is already joyously adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt, even as ObamaCare sets about destroying America’s once-free healthcare system.

Still, those who — such as Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul — opposed ObamaCare in principle and refused to authorize another debt-ceiling hike can take some comfort that standing for principle even in the face of steep odds has proven instructive, and may yield a harvest in lower spending and limited government somewhere down the road. The lessons learned and re-learned during episodes such as the latest shutdown may someday prompt more than a small minority of patriots to embrace anew the program of our Founders, and allow for a return to constitutional government.

Lesson Number One

The first and most glaring lesson is that Washington insiders will stop at nothing to prevent government shrinkage. News coverage of the shutdown was quite possibly the most biased ever seen, with one post-shutdown study by Media Research Center of the reporting by CBS, ABC, and NBC showing not a single story singling out the Democrats for blame. Specifically, out of 124 total stories covering the event, 41 blamed Republicans or conservatives, 17 blamed both parties, and not a single one blamed Democrats or liberals. What the 20 million viewers of those three networks heard, concluded the MRC, “was a version of the shutdown story that could easily have emanated from Barack Obama’s own White House.”

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Photo: AP Images

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