Two random thoughts on the shutdown. First, this again points to the enormous need for states to undertake come commonsense redistricting reform. Only 17 House Republicans are in districts carried by Obama in 2012 (during a convincing win nationally) and only nine Democrats are in districts carried by Romney. That means despite what national polls show there is little incentive to compromise. Our government simply can’t work in an environment where primaries are systematically a more serious threat to incumbents than general elections.
Second, the House Republicans who are currently forcing the government shutdown have a point when they complain about out of control government, enormous bills no one reads, no transparency and all that. But they don’t seem to understand – or if they do not care – how their actions now cause that problem rather than remedying it. Just as with past brinksmanship the inevitable result of this current clash when it’s finally resolved, whether soon or after some continuing resolutions, will be another omnibus bill with all kinds of things rolled into it. If House Republicans are really serious about getting government under control they should demand a return to adherence to rules around authorizations, appropriations, an annual budget process and all the elements of congressional process that decentralize power within the institution and increase accountability.
Of course, a return to process and a demand for respect for it means you can’t pull stunts like taking the federal government or its borrowing authority hostage when you don’t get your way. Yet even before the current breakdown most people would consider that a feature not a flaw. And it ought to be something both sides can agree on.