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The best conservative argument for another government shutdown

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

An important new argument is gaining traction on the right about the wisdom of a government shutdown over Obama taking executive action over immigration. This argument doesn't say that "this time will be different" and congressional Republicans will evade blame for a shutdown. Instead, activist Erick Erickson points out that conservatives won a huge landslide in 2014 even though voters blamed them for the 2013 shutdown. Indeed, he argues that the 1995 shutdown went fine, too.

"Again," he writes, "after the shutdown [in] the Clinton years, the GOP picked up Senate seats." And on Election Day this year we saw "a wave of such magnitude it is pretty hard to claim that if only the Congress had not shut down the wave would have been longer."

Erickson concludes that there's no reason for Republicans to fear a shutdown this fall.

Thus, he concludes, the GOP should pass appropriations containing "everything except Obamacare funding and funding for any immigration actions the President wants to take." And this time they should stick to their guns: "when he shuts down the government, keep it shut till you have your way and then hold public hearings to show how Obama selectively shut things down to hurt the voters intentionally."

After all, the GOP lost the messaging war last time around and nonetheless "the public rewarded them with the biggest election wave in modern American political history from the local level to the federal level."

I think you have to admit that there's something pretty persuasive about this. The 2013 shutdown was a total debacle for Republicans, except there was no objective price to pay. Public opinion moves relatively quickly. And an American president doesn't have the authority to call a "snap" election if his legislative opponents become temporarily unpopular. The shutdown was forgiven and forgotten by the voters long before Election Day. So if you're purely concerned about the electoral politics of the thing, it doesn't seem like a shutdown this winter would do Republicans any harm.