Republican messaging surrounding their decision to shut down the government is a bit of a mess, burdened by an unhealthy amount of cognitive dissonance. The party wants Americans to believe that Democrats should be blamed for the shutdown, and that the shutdown is a conservative triumph that Republicans were right to embrace. The GOP argues that conservatives fought for this shutdown – and now boast about it – but really didn’t want it.
And Republicans would have the public believe that the shutdown doesn’t much matter, since the federal government is an inherently awful burden that Americans neither want nor need. The problem, of course, is that the GOP’s shutdown is causing real harm to real people, and every tragic consequence is a reminder, not only of the far-right’s party’s callous indifference, but of the importance of government itself.
Ned Resnikoff reported yesterday, for example, on several hundred preschool-aged children who can no longer go to a Head Start center in Alabama because its 240 employees have been furloughed without pay.
The Wall Street Journal had a related item on the shutdown’s real-world effects:
At the National Institutes of Health, nearly three-quarters of the staff was furloughed. One result: director Francis Collins said about 200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center into clinical trials each week will be turned away. This includes about 30 children, most of them cancer patients, he said.
On Fox News yesterday, a prominent far-right pundit said the shutdown is irrelevant because the “worst thing that happens is some museums close.” Another prominent far-right radio host boasted yesterday that the shutdown is “a dream for conservatives.”
Yes, for others, it’s a nightmare.