I Miss the Shutdown Already

Ladies and gentlemen, I've been lightly depressed. This fall, the president's agenda, which I support, was supported by fewer other Americans than at any other time in his two terms. The Tea Party's relentless asymmetric warfare against the rest of us had thus far been devastatingly successful. Their nihilistic brand of every (white) man (and only man) for themselves had so dispirited so many of us, that their cynicism became ours, albeit from different angles. Thanks to the efficacy of these shrill, right-wing anarchists two ideas became entrenched in the mainstream: 1.) Nothing would ever happen in Washington no matter what the majority had voted. And 2.) Maybe Reagan was right, maybe government itself is the problem. And be honest with yourself, the president had blinked or at least watered down policies so many times before that up until the end of this battle you thought he might back down or at least allow the Tea Party terrorists a gentlemanly retreat.

Not this time. And that's why I am so emboldened.

The Tea Party's goal is not less government but virtually no government at all, and the sequester cuts they brilliantly muscled through the last time was putting our country on a glide path to both less government to the point of rapacious anarchy, and our guaranteed future irrelevance as a global leader. Had they forced a default, historians could officially mark the beginning of the end of America's global influence.

In effect, up until the Tea Party's Waterloo, they had been blithely crushing all opponents, even those well above their weight class. Their minority of a minority was getting exactly what they had always wanted. Thanks to the sequester cuts and governmental paralysis, we were all limping by in an age of ever diminishing governance. Federal irrelevance was beginning to seem the norm. But thanks to their overreach, pretty much shutting down government altogether, a funny thing happened.

Ordinary Americans began to miss it. When Republicans started talking about opening back up the government a la carte, everyone quickly realized they were reading off of different menus.

This reminds me of Douglas Turner Ward's controversial hit play, Day of Absence. Written in 1970, it tells the story of a small Southern town who, suddenly and inexplicably, is missing all its black folks. Fields were left untended, babies un-nannied. The white citizens never realized how integral their black neighbors had been to their well-being. So when the black citizens just as miraculously returned, their white neighbors' attitudes had changed.

Or as Otis Redding so soulfully put it: "You don't miss your water till the well runs dry."