There is a lot of talk these days about how the GOP cannot afford to shut down the government like they did in 1995. “Remember,” they the chattering class say, “the GOP got destroyed at the polls in 1996.”
That talk has everything to do with the Democrats winning the message battle in the media, but has nothing to do with anything else. Let’s roll the tape, shall we?
In 1995, Republicans in Washington shut down the government. They got creamed by the media and Democrats. The Democrats were interested in scoring points. The media was interested and remains interested in “good government,” never mind what that may or may not be.
But what actually happened?
The House Republicans lost only nine seats. Nine. In fact, nationally, the House GOP got 47.8% of the popular vote to the Democrats only getting 48.1%. In fact, the House GOP outperformed Bob Dole who only got 40% of the vote.
The Senate Republicans actually gained seats. Two.
I would argue that these losses had much more to do — more than a year removed from the government shutdown — with Bob Dole’s anemic, struggling campaign and national infrastructure, than with the government shut down.
As we get to a fight on the debt ceiling, the media will tell the GOP to remember the spanking they got when last they shut down the government.
I would tell the GOP to not be afraid to shut down the government. Contrary to the myth, the reality was it did not hurt them and actually forced the Democrats to cooperate on balancing the budget and reforming welfare.
Brinksmanship works. So does shutting down the government.