PHILLIPS: Harry Reid’s shutdown: Motive for a fight

Motive goes a long way to explain why Harry Reid and Barack Obama are doing something that should be political suicide. Photo: AP Photos

WASHINGTON, October 5, 2013  Harry Reid’s government shutdown is one of those events that on its face makes no sense. Why would Democrat Senate Leader Harry Reid shut the government down? Why would Barack Obama join him in doing that? Why would they refuse to even negotiate with the Republicans?

In a criminal case, prosecutors never have to prove motive but often spend a significant amount of time doing just that. Why?


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Because when motive is explained, the incomprehensible suddenly makes sense.

This fight began over Obamacare.

The Republicans want to delay Obamacare for a year. Given the train wreck that is Obamacare, you would think the Democrats would be all for postponing it for a year to avoid being massacred at the polls.

Why do Harry Reid, New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama want this fight?


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Schumer let the secret out a couple of days ago. He was asked by a reporter why the Democrats could not work with the GOP on the bills they could agree on, like President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich did in 1995. Schumer’s replied, “It was a different world then.” When pressed on what that meant, Schumer added, “It is because we have a Tea Party.”

Reid, Schumer and Obama will not negotiate with the Republicans because of the Tea Party.  But there is much more to this story than that. It is not mere petulance that keeps the Democrats from negotiating.

The Democrats know they are running a huge risk in 2014. Americans hate Obamacare. And this disaster is going to be so bad that real Americans are going to take it out on the Democrats at the polls in 2014. Reid, Schumer and Obama may be ideologues, but they are not fools. They can read polls.

Why would the Democrats take such a risk at the polls? The answer is they believe this is a fight that will destroy the Tea Party and the conservative wing of the Republican Party. They are not worried about the Establishment wing of the Party. They are people like New York Congressman Peter King who want to surrender to the Democrats early and often.


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Those three Democrats, who are all far to the left, do not believe in a two party system.  Socialists do not believe in competition in the marketplace or at the ballot box. They dream of the days back in the 70’s where the Democrats had absolute control of Washington and the Republicans were happy for it to be that way.

The Democrats are going all in on this shutdown, trying to cause as much pain as possible so the American people will turn on the Republican Party. They want to cause a split within the Republican Party that will destroy it.

They are very close. According to the liberal political media in Washington, there are between 20 and 30 squishy Republicans, who want to go ahead and surrender to the Democrats, end this fight and move on.

If this happens, and the Republican Party breaks ranks and surrenders, it will be the end of the Republican Party. Conservatives will leave the Party in droves. Instead of having a unified opposition in 2014, the conservative movement will be fragmented, disorganized and dispirited.

This is Harry Reid’s end game. He knows that if things continue on, he will spend the last two years of his term as, at best, the Senate Minority Leader and perhaps as just another Senator.

The conservative base has been energized by both Ted Cruz and the willingness, for once, of the Republican Party to fight. Reid, Schumer and Obama know that if they can break the GOP and get the establishment Republicans to surrender, conservatives will stay home in 2014 and the Republican Party will be at best a small minority party.

For the Democrats, this is a high stakes gamble. On the other hand, given the track record of the Republicans, the odds may be in Harry Reid’s favor.

That is why Harry Reid is fighting.


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Judson Phillips

Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest Tea Party Groups in the country and the number one national tea party site on the Internet.

A lawyer by profession, Judson has been involved in politics since his teens. “Ronald Reagan inspired me,” he says.

Judson became involved in the Tea Party movement in February 2009 after hearing Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC.   “I heard there was going to be a Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Santelli, but didn’t know if anyone was doing a rally in Nashville where I was based.  Finally I emailed Michelle Malkin and asked her if there was a Tea Party in Nashville.  Malkin sent an email back saying, ‘No, why don’t you organize one?’  I did.”

The first Tea Party in Nashville was held late February 2009 which drew a crowd of about 600. Judson then organized the Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, which drew over 10,000 people into downtown.   It was at this time that Tea Party Nation was formed.  Later that year, Judson decided to bring activists from across the country together, so he organized the first National Tea Party Convention in February 2010, which featured Alaska’s former Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee, Sarah Palin as it’s keynote speaker.

He currently manages the Tea Party Nation website, writes several daily columns and is working on more projects than any one person should.  He is a frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others.

Contact Judson Phillips

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