Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Shutdown, Schmutdown - 'GRAB ’EM BY THE MIDTERMS' is the bigger story

The biggest news of the weekend and yesterday was the shutdown, the details of the Senate-initiated bill that the House passed and that Trump signed. The Huffington Post reported that Democrats Agree To Reopen Government Without Protections For Dreamers. The shutdown was effectively over after Trump signed the funding deal late Monday.

Senators voted 81–18 for a three-week funding measure to reopen the government, with many Democrats saying they felt encouraged by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) assurance over the weekend that the Senate would proceed to an immigration bill soon.

Democrats insisted they weren’t caving, even though they didn’t get what they wanted: an immediate vote on protections for undocumented young people often called Dreamers. But the deal gave them a way out of what could have been a politically damaging shutdown. The promise of a vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, although it could be reneged on, is something Democrats didn’t have before. It’s the first time Democrats received a firm deadline for a vote on an immigration bill. And if McConnell doesn’t follow through, Democrats will be able to use this promise to vote against the next spending bill and pin the blame on Republicans.

If McConnell keeps his word, he’ll put Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a tough spot. There is a DACA bill currently working its way through the House that would deliver on a number of conservative immigration priorities, but it has no chance in the Senate.

If senators are able to pass their own bill, while simultaneously demonstrating that the House bill doesn’t have the votes to pass in their chamber, Ryan will be left with the choice of either putting the Senate bill up for a vote and angering conservatives or holding strong. If he holds strong and doesn’t put the Senate-passed measure up for a vote, he could risk another shutdown and strengthen the Democrats’ argument that another government closure is the fault of Republican obstructionism.

That’s the calm stuff. The rest of the reaction, the aftermath of the vote, was blistering for Sen. Chuck Schumer and those Dems who voted for that bill. In Mitch We Trust’ for a DACA vote to end the ‘shit-show’ shutdown? That was your whole plan, Chuck? (Updated), blasted the AZ Blue Meanie. The New Yorker writer asked Did Schumer Cave on the Shutdown? A New York Times columnist charged Schumer Sells Out the Resistance.

But New Yorker’s John Cassidy has another take on the news - on something he sees as a lot bigger and under-reported story - the Women’s Marches.The Women’s Marches Could Have More Lasting Consequences Than the Government Shutdown.

The machinations on Capitol Hill are obviously newsworthy. But, in historical terms, the hundreds of women’s marches that took place across the country on Saturday and Sunday were arguably of greater importance — and they deserved much more coverage than they received. Since neither party stands to gain much from an extended government shutdown, the impasse will probably be resolved within a short time frame [and it was]. The marches represented the latest manifestation of a phenomenon that is more lasting, and, ultimately, more consequential: a rare popular mobilization against a sitting President.

Although there are no wholly reliable figures, it seems certain that well over a million people around the country marched on Saturday. Unlike last year, when the focus was an event in Washington, D.C., the most high-profile protests this year took place in other cities, with Los Angeles taking the prize for the biggest march of all. According to Eric Garcetti, the city’s mayor, about six hundred thousand people took part. Here in New York, the Mayor’s office estimated that at least two hundred thousand people marched down Central Park West and Sixth Avenue. There were five-figure crowds in Chicago and Philadelphia, too. Equally impressive was the turnout in smaller cities, such as Austin, Texas; Asheville, North Carolina; Boise, Idaho; and Knoxville, Tennessee. On Sunday, the protests continued, with marches in other cities and a big rally at a football stadium in Las Vegas.

as the marchers’ signs and chants demonstrated, Trump was still the primary motivating factor. With his incendiary behavior in the White House, he isn’t just a lightning rod. He’s a highly effective recruiting sergeant for the self-styled anti-Trump resistance. If some of the marchers were largely apolitical before Trump became President, they aren’t apolitical anymore. To most of them, I’d guess, getting out and joining the protests felt less like a choice than an imperative.

For two years in a row, the women’s marches have turned out far more people than the Tea Party protests held between 2007 to 2010 did. …

… [Regarding the shutdown] it is hard to believe that Democratic leaders would have taken such a bold step without feeling the pressure from a broad constituency demanding that they resist Trump in any way possible, including some that might previously have been unthinkable.

Of course, Schumer and his colleagues have other reasons not to trust vague statements of intent from McConnell and the White House, especially when it comes to immigration. From the very beginning, Trump has been a cynical demagogue on the issue. And, in recent weeks, he has reversed himself at least once on it. (Twice, if you believe Schumer’s account of the meeting that he had in the Oval Office on Friday.)

However the shutdown gets resolved [and it was, albeit briefly], this emerging constituency, which believes the Trump Presidency represents a national emergency, isn’t going anywhere, except to the next protest or political meeting. Just as the Tea Party provided the Republican Party of 2010 with the organizers and doorbell-ringers that are so important in off-year elections, many of the attendees at this weekend’s women’s marches will be working from now until November to turn Trump into a lame duck. Their attitude, defiant and determined, was summed up by a pair of signs held by two marchers in Washington, D.C., The signs said: “GRAB ’EM BY THE MIDTERMS.”

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