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Different sort of shutdown

The childish and stupid government shutdown is almost as frustrating as the way Washington has operated for the past generation or so. But not quite.

Normally what happens is a shutdown is merely contemplated over an issue important to the conservative side of aisle. Sometimes a shutdown happens. Then the more liberal side backs off with their hands held in the air and summon up cries of how cold-hearted the wretches on the other side are.

The conservatives fold because feelings always beat facts in the postmodern world. Principles slide further into the gnawing maw of government avarice.

The sun comes up the next day followed by night and then conservatives start thinking about a shutdown again and the whole thing repeats.

The good Lord knows it is fatiguing. It’s the Globetrotters vs. the Generals again.

It is part of why, along with the nomination of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is president today. So this should be his moment.

Trump campaigned on building a wall. The people who voted for him expect him to build one regardless of the foolishness of whether Mexico will pay. Even Democrats who have voted for a wall in the past know that a building a physical barrier between a good part of Mexico and the United States is a piece of a practical solution to controlling our borders.

But they can’t vote for it because it validates Trump, who is really, really hated.

They hated George W. Bush but nothing like they hate this guy with the hair and the long ties. It animates their days. It becomes the reason many get out bed in the morning and why some stay off drugs. They are on a mission to destroy Trump. The Democrats simply can’t give him a wall, not after winning the House of Representatives.

So he asks for a $6 billion for a wall and will shut down the government without it. Congress says no. The government starts to shut down. He still demands the wall. Republicans and Democrats get together and figure out a way to fund individual departments to reduce the suffering caused by the shutdown. Trump says no. He will veto those individual funding bills.

The whole point of a shutdown is that it is painful. It is something both sides should seek to avoid because a lot of people get hurt, including, in our part of the world, farmers who need to borrow money through federal agencies to put the 2019 crops in the ground. The pain is supposed to make one side cave.

Trump still says no. 

It’s really a battle over nothing. Several billion dollars out of a federal budget of $4.407 trillion. Yet in the minds of combatants it is everything.

Too soon to say who will win, though when the stakes are petty it’s tough betting against Trump.

The thing is Democrats have given Trump little to lose. When it comes to his reelection, how can his opponents make him more of a villain than they already have? If he loses in 2020, better to have lost in the quest for a border wall than lose over nothing but the general hatred of the established elite in town.

This time the game is much less predicable.