I'm out of the country visiting family and friends, so I've been a bit less immersed in the shutdown than I might have been had I been home. However, most people I've spoken with here have asked me about the shutdown and find the shutdown somewhat hard to understand. As a result I've still had to think about this a bit.
From a governmental point of view, the shutdown is more embarrassing then damaging - at least if it is resolved relatively quickly - say in under a month. Now that is not to say that this will not cause some people, such as lower paid federal workers, real pain - but on a national level this is not going to cause serious damage. (Screwing with the debt ceiling on the other hand has the potential to be rapidly and irretrievably catastrophic.) It seems fairly clear that the Republicans have overreached and sometime later in October will pass a continuing resolution which is either clean or contains some kind of concession Democrats can live with such as repealing the medical device tax.
While that will resolve the immediate crisis, this doesn't resolve the fundamental problem. More below the fold.....
Fundamentally, a portion of the Republican party fundamentally disagrees with the scope of modern government. Gerrymandered house districts coupled with a relatively even split between the parties mean that the influence of this part of the Republican party is magnified in the house to the extent that they have effective control.
What that means is that we are going to have a continuing crisis until one of the following happens:
(i) The Democrats decisively win and return to the kind of permanent majority enjoyed by the Democratic party from the 1950s to the 1990s. This may happen given the number of extreme positions that Republicans are taking, but the previous Democratic dominance was rooted in the combination of the depression and World War II, so it may not happen.
(ii) We end gerrymandering or move to non partisan elections both of which would penalize extremism. While there have been some steps in this regard such as California's open primary, this does not seem likely to be occurring rapidly.
(iii) Republicans decisively win. This seems unlikely given the extreme nature of some Republican positions. In the event of a decisive Republican win, the most likely outcome is that the true wingnuts don't control the system, but there would still be a set of very conservative results.
If the above list largely seems taken from fantasyland then we should not be surprised that the next few years will be marked by government shutdowns, dysfunction and grandstanding. Nothing will get accomplished, but hopefully, nothing too disastrous will occur either.
The president's party usually loses seats in the mid-term elections, so the odds that we retake the House are low. Fortunately, while Republicans could easily pick up a couple of Senate seats the odds that they gain enough to take the Senate are also low.
In other words, we are unfortunately going to have to get used to this nonsense.