Monday, September 30, 2013

How To Survive The Impending Shutdown In Three Easy Steps

Considering we're facing the last day before October 1st when a new budget has to kick in - either with a Continuing Resolution or an actual budget - and that the odds are very high that the Republicans' demands will be rejected by the Democrats... we're pretty much facing a government shutdown.

Having survived the Shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, I would like to offer up my expertise on the matter and provide some emotional and spiritual support in these trying times.  So here now is a simple, three-step guide to surviving the Shutdown Showdown of 2013:

1. Don't panic.  The ones inflicting the shutdown - the Far Right - are in fact counting on a lot of people freaking out and calling their elected officials to scream about getting something done.  While the House GOP will get those calls same as the Democrats, the Far Right are so out-of-touch with voters... so willingly out of touch with voters... that they will easily ignore the shouting in their own ears.  They are sociopathic enough to know that while they can endure the screaming, their Democratic opponents - who actually want government to work - may well buckle under the pressure and give in to a handful of demands... at which point the Far Right knows that hostage-taking works and will continue to play this game of destruction.

Now, there will be a lot of people inconvenienced by the shutdown.  That's the whole point of it.  The thing not to do is give the ones pushing the shutdown any satisfaction.  You're just going to have to endure this and wait for the financial sector power leaders to dopeslap enough Republicans for them to pass a clean CR bill.

Voters need to realize something: Washington doesn't really listen to protests anymore unless it's a protest they themselves organized.  When hundreds of thousands marched in the streets against the Iraqi invasion in 2002-03, the media ignored it or dismissed it and the elected officials didn't give a rat's ass.  When hundreds of thousands marched in the streets in favor of immigration reform in 2005-06... take a look, we're still stuck with a broken immigration system.

The only thing our elected officials even pay attention to anymore are election results.  They only care about who wins and who doesn't.  The reason the Far Right Republicans pay no mind to protests is because they've insulated themselves into gerrymandered districts where they can always get re-elected by pandering to the base, not the masses.  Which brings us to...

2. Change your voter ID information.  This will take some time on your part.  You can go online or to a location that will carry voter registration forms - while the federal government agencies are closing down for the shutdown, the county and state offices ought to stay open - and fill out a change of voter identification form.

This step is very important: change your voter ID from whatever party affiliation you've got - Republican or Democrat - to No Party Affiliate or Independent.  Also, change your Ethnic identification - if it asks for one - to Other.  That's all.  This is important because this will eventually screw up the political parties in a variety of ways.  And while it won't do much good right now, hopefully if enough voters change their identities over to NPA as well as hide their ethnic identity on the records, it will screw up the parties' ability to craft out gerrymandered districts.

Now, the deal is the states are not supposed to be creating districts for partisan gain.  But the law is one thing: the practice is another.  Parties dominating in a state use specially designed software programs to calculate out the best ways to carve out districts by ethnicity - some states by law have to carve out minority-majority districts - and by party affiliation (they're not supposed to, but they know the loopholes to mask what they're doing).  This is why here in Florida even though there's a 800,000 voter advantage to Democrats over Republicans, the Republican-controlled legislature still figures out how to create more Republican districts than Democrat.

Ah, but what if a massive majority of registered voters were suddenly No Party Affiliate?  There's a good 2 million now out of 11 million registered in Florida... what if it's suddenly 6 million, more than the Dems and more than the GOP put together?  The state lege could still figure out a few things by ethnicity - Black-majority communities by census are bound to be Democratic by default when 98 percent of Blacks vote that way - but now they can't tell exactly where to make their cuts into urban and suburban areas to ensure GOP-friendly districts.  No more safe districts in Florida for Republicans.  If they gerrymander the wrong way they could make it more Democratic-leaning than if they just did it by population density like they're supposed to.

It's also pretty liberating to not be tied down to one party.  You'll still get their junk mail begging for donations, but you're no longer under any kind of peer pressure to subsume your political beliefs to a group that will just ignore 'em.



Don't listen to the "both sides do it" bullshit.  The Republicans are totally on board with crashing the government and ruining the nation's credit rating.  Yes, the Democrats have voted before against the debt ceiling and they rail against the Continuing Resolutions that make do for budgets when they're in the minority.  But the Democrats don't schedule an entire government shutdown around it.  My God, some of the Republicans came out of their Saturday pep rally openly cheering what they were planning to do.

The Democrats never held up an entire government like this to pass basically an entire Presidential platform (Romney/Ryan's 2012) that got rejected by a solid majority of American voters.

And the Democrats never pushed an agenda like this that was so sociopathic, where the Republicans want to kill off a health care reform package designed to help more people, not less.  We're talking about a Republican Party so obsessed with punishing poor people they are willing to cut food stamp aid by $39 billion under the argument that "the poor just gotta suck it up".

And we're talking about a political party in the modern Republicans who refuse to negotiate on good faith, issuing demands so far to the right there is no room for Obama or anyone on the left to see a point on which to compromise.  A Republican Party that keeps thinking it won everything in 2012 and so ought to get all the pretty prizes it wants.

The Republican Party is going to keep taking hostages and ruin our nation's credit and credibility until they get voted out of power for good.  And even then they may not accept the reality - mostly because the real party leadership (hi Fox Not-News!) aren't elected officials, meaning they won't get burned if the GOP no longer has legislative or executive powers - but at least they won't be in any position to ruin our lives for a good long while.

So there you have it.  Just follow those three easy steps and you'll get through this showdown crisis just fine.

Also, stock up on a lot of bottled water, portable battery extensions for your tablet devices, and food for yourselves and your pets.  ...You know, just in case.


Anonymous said...

You are really just a stealth Democrat even though you try not to come off as one.

Paul Wartenberg said...

I'm really an ex-Republican who got angry enough at the right-shift radicalism to quit the party and go No Party Affiliate, and so I speak from experience about how liberating it is to not be beholden to any ideology.
I'd pity you, but you'd never understand why. All you'd see would be me being a condescending librul sonofabitch.

Donna Williams said...

Re number 2 in your list of 3 easy things to do. In my state there is no party registration, but politicians are still able to gerrymander districts with impunity. Because when one votes in a primary, one must choose the different colored registration form for the political party primary you wish to vote in. So that information gets tallied and released to political candidates. I always get calls and mailings from the candidates of the party I habitually vote for. Tis another amendment we need, or something. "Congressional Districts should be drawn in a non-partisan manner by qualified "experts"." Wouldn't impact the state and local elections, but they would soon follow suit, methinks.

Anonymous said...

This is a good read, but some bad advice.

DO NOT GO NPA! Register Democratic. And help elect a Democrat in your district! Make sure it's someone good, a fighter for progressive values. And make sure to elect Democrats in your STATEHOUSE too, to take it back, in time for the 2020 census.

Changing your party affiliation now affects diddly squat in terms of redistricting. Redistricting happens every 10 years. We blew the last one. Next opportunity is 2020. Make sure you don't have Republicans in charge of your statehouse, that's where the redistricting is done.

In the meantime, ORGANIZE to elect Democrats in 2014 and boot out these nihilist teabaggers who have just shut down the government. THAT is the most important thing you can do right now... and it helps to be registered Democratic so you can vote in primaries.

Paul Wartenberg said...

Donna, thanks for that info. So the parties still have a way to figure out how to gerrymander by voting results... Damn.
Well, on Step 2, dropping party affiliation... it's STILL a wonderful liberating feeling to not be encumbered with party identity! I highly recommend it!