No, a DHS Shutdown Probably Won’t Hurt Republicans Much

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Republicans are threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security over their opposition to any funding bill that doesn’t halt President Obama’s immigration actions, and today Ed Kilgore notes a new poll today that says a majority of the public will indeed blame Republicans if this happens. Only 30 percent will blame Obama:

That 30% probably blames Obama for bad winter weather, so he’s on relatively safe ground here. As for Republicans, some don’t give a damn about public opinion (outside their bright-red districts, at least), some have convinced themselves that shutting down the whole damn government worked out all right for them just over a year ago, and some are simply prisoners of their own rhetoric and prejudices. In any event, adverse polling data alone won’t pull them back from the brink.

This is basically just an excuse to mention something that surprisingly few people acknowledge: shutting down the government in 2013 did work out all right for Republicans. The punditocracy seems almost unanimously convinced that it seriously hurt them, and it’s true that the GOP leadership wants to avoid a replay. But aside from a brief dip in the polls, the GOP escaped almost entirely unharmed. As soon as the shutdown was over, media attention shifted instantly to the Obamacare meltdown that was then in progress.

In fact, a year after the shutdown, Republicans won the 2014 election in a landslide. Does anyone think they would have done even better if they hadn’t shut down the government? Anyone?

This isn’t to say that Republicans aren’t playing with fire here. Shutting down DHS has really bad optics, and presidents have ways of making shutdowns look even worse than they are. Republicans will complain that Obama is playing politics, and they’ll probably be right, but their griping will fall on deaf ears. What’s more, as time wears on the crazytown wing of the Republican Party will start saying some seriously embarrassing things. They always do. In the end, then, some kind of face-saving compromise will probably be reached that funds DHS and makes little more than a token concession on immigration.

In other words, the shutdown probably won’t do Republicans any good—though it’s always helpful to keep the base energized. But I frankly doubt that it will do them much harm either.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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