I said it before and I’ll say it again: the current longest-ever government shutdown is merely a warmup for the next time there’s divided government under a Democratic president (my guess would be 2023). They will do this again, only in a different context which will more easily lend itself to both-sidesery, after the luster of the new Democrat has worn off and people return to being mad about the bullshit not going away. While I’d like to think that the next Democrat will implement effective, even radical solutions that will take effect almost immediately, in?all likelihood the next Democratic president isn’t going to be the leftist hero of our dreams. S/he will most likely be a coalition-builder who is broadly acceptable to all Democratic groups including the bipartisan fantasists (but who will, most likely, be substantially to the left of where the Obama/Clinton party line was). Some incremental gains are unlikely to prevent the typical midterm losses. At any rate, the current shutdown is unlikely to result in a generational repudiation of the conservative movement (nor is the Trump presidency, for that matter), so the idea that Senate Majority Leader Ted Cruz won’t pull this shit in five years on President Cory Booker is…optimistic. Indeed, Cruz by that time may well be a relative moderate in his caucus. Under McConnell, no deals were made with Obama on substantive legislation, but so-called mandatory, “keeping the lights on” legislation was ultimately passed and often without major incident. I wouldn’t count on it remaining uncontroversial in the future. There remains a strong need for Republicans to find ways to differentiate themselves as “more conservative” than fellow Republicans, and virtually none of them have any interest in governing. Few seem to care much about the effects of the shutdown. It’s obviously going to head in this direction, and while Democrats could attempt to pass a law to eliminate shutdowns to the effect that the failure of a new spending bill perpetuates the status quo, I’d be surprised if they did, for the same reason I’d be surprised if they passed a law to abolish the debt ceiling. The reason why one would pass such laws would be a thoroughgoing understanding of the increasing impossibility of cooperation with the GOP, and many of the elderly nostalgics who run the party are extremely resistant to this fact. This will correct itself in time, but in how much time?

Increasingly, the scenario I see for the collapse of the Madisonian system is a Republican-initiated government shutdown that never actually ends. Goes on for months, years, just never ends. In the meantime, individual states assume more of its functions and keep federal tax receipts for themselves, and a new de facto?system is created with a still technically existing federal government shell that does nothing. I don’t see this as a good outcome but it’s increasingly plausible.

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  1. Metavirus says:

    I’m increasingly convinced that Neil Stephenson will someday be seen as a prophet.

    Stephenson spends a fair amount of time [in his cyberpunk masterpiece?Snow Crash] looking at [“burbclaves” as] the idea of a gated community. In his conception, these small housing developments are virtually independent countries. They were “…vast house farms out in the loglo wilderness; a culture medium for a medium culture.? A city-state with its own constitution, a border, laws, cops, everything.”

    I’ve wondered what it would take to have the nation devolve into an association of loosely-federated, semi-autonomous city-/states.? A perpetual government shutdown would make sense.? Stephenson’s description of “Fedland”, one of the last remaining bastions of the U.S. federal government in California, has always stuck with me:

    Hughes Airport, which is now a private outpost of Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong, continues past the Santa Monica Airport, which just got bought out by Admiral Bob’s Global Security. Cuts through the middle of Fedland, [which] used to be the VA Hospital and a bunch of other Federal buildings; now it has condensed into a kidney-shaped lozenge that wraps around 405. It has a barrier around it, a perimeter fence put up by stringing chain link fabric, concertina wire, heaps of rubble, and Jersey barriers from one building to the next. All of the buildings in Fedland are big and ugly. Human beings mill around their plinths, wearing wool clothing the color of damp granite. They are scrawny and dark underneath the white majesty of the buildings. On the far side of the Fedland barrier, off to the right, [there is] UCLA, which is now being jointly run by the Japanese and Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong and a few big American corporations. People say that over there to the left, in Pacific Palisades, is a big building above the ocean where the Central Intelligence Corporation has its West Coast headquarters.

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