A government shutdown is inevitable because President Obama will insist on it. Nothing the Republicans do, short of total capitulation, will prevent this from happening. So the Republicans’ task is to prevail in this inevitable confrontation and lay the groundwork for victory in 2012.
Implementing their mandate from the 2010 election, Republicans are seeking a $100 billion cut in government spending from the current budget. But the Democrats have vigorously objected to even such modest reductions to the current trillion-dollar deficit. It is apparent that the Democrats are digging in their heels, prepared to defy the peoples demand for substantial cuts in spending.
Much of the political class is wondering why. Why are virtually no cuts acceptable to the Democrats? And why isnt Mr. Obama tacking toward the center, as President Bill Clinton did after 1994, to enhance his re-election chances?
The answer is found in the city where Mr. Obama cut his political teeth as a community organizer. Chicago is the home of Saul Alinsky, the political activist who wrote “Rules for Radicals” in 1971 as a guidebook for how the “have-nots” can take power from the “haves.”
Mr. Alinsky observed that “change comes from power,” and the aim of his book was “to suggest how to organize for power” in order to achieve “a more equitable distribution of the means of life for all people.” The manual, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “influenced generations of community and labor organizers, including the church-based group hiring a young Obama to work on Chicagos South Side in the 1980s.”
Mr. Alinsky’s first rule is that “revolutions do not go backwards.” Mr. Obama has presided over a massive increase in government spending - redistributing substantial wealth from the haves to the have-nots - and he is not going to go backwards.
Second, Mr. Obama expected the reaction manifested in the Republican midterm victories and will attempt to use it to his advantage. History “is the universal tale of revolution and reaction,” and radicals must “accept and learn to anticipate the inevitable counter-revolution” in order to “minimize the latter,” as Mr. Alinsky saw it. Thus, “the real action is in the enemys reaction,” which “will be your major strength.”
So Mr. Obama will seek to harness this reaction to foment another revolution. But how?
The key to understanding Mr. Alinskys method is that “change means movement,” and that change cannot occur “without that abrasive friction of conflict.” So defeat of the counter-revolution requires another crisis to spawn another revolution, and that crisis is a government shutdown.
So following the Alinsky prescription, a government shutdown is inevitable. It will be the means to the ends of moving the people toward further change and the president’s re-election. The only question is: Will it work? The answer is no, if the Republicans employ four key strategies.
c Understand that the target is the middle class.
Even though, as Mr. Alinsky observed, “radicals are products of - and rebels against - our middle- class society,” they are attempting to pre-empt it in favor of their revolution. That is why union protesters claim to be saving the middle class. Their framing the argument as a benefit to mainstream America is a vital part of their strategy.
c Demonstrate that the government shutdown is a result of the Democrats’ refusal to cut government spending.
With a three-week extension of government funding (which included $6 billion in cuts) expiring April 8, now is the time to escalate one’s bid. Demand $12 billion in cuts the next time. And when the shutdown occurs because of an Obama veto or a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the House should keep passing bills to reopen the government, coupling it with more spending cuts.
c Stay united.
One of the strengths of opposition to the Obama agenda in the past two years was GOP unity. As a result, the message was clear where Republicans stood. Going forward, unity is essential as the president presses for a shutdown. The loss of some GOP support on the recent vote on the three-week extension is a danger signal. Escalating the spending cuts next time should bring all Republicans together again.
c Finally, call their bluff.
There is a fundamental contradiction in the Democrats’ shutting down the government. The Democrats are the party of government. It is like a bank robber, caught in the act, who threatens to pull the trigger on himself if arrested; what would the cop say but, “Go ahead”? The government shutdown threat defeats the Democrats own objective and is thus ultimately self-defeating, while the Republicans protect the bank depositors - the taxpayers - from the bank robber.
With a proper understanding of what we face, Republicans can defeat this attempt to reverse the 2010 election and lay the groundwork for victory in 2012.
• James Bopp Jr., a constitutional lawyer, is vice chairman of the Republican National Committee and the co-founder of the Republican National Conservative Caucus within the RNC.