So Yuval agrees with me that the Republicans, at present, don’t have the MANDATE to stop Obamacare, especially through stopping the government. Here are his most controversial words, in my opinion. I present them for your consideration:

The shutdown itself is not a catastrophe, though it achieves nothing and should have been avoided. Shutting down 40 percent or so of the federal government won’t have immediate implications in the lives of most Americans, at least at first. The president’s dire warnings yesterday were, like his warnings about the direct effects of the sequester cuts, exaggerated and misguided. But the expectations of some Republicans that a shutdown would bring a public uprising in opposition to Obamacare were surely even more misguided. Both sets of expectations assume the federal government is at the center of Americans’ lives and is the focus of their attention, and it just isn’t. That’s a good thing, and conservatives more than anyone should remember that.

The urgency underlying the defund efforts of the past few weeks was itself also driven in part by a view of the American public that is unbecoming of conservatives. The idea that once people started signing up for exchange subsidies (or once they start receiving them) the country will become “hooked on the sugar,” in Ted Cruz’s unfortunate formulation, strikes me as a misunderstanding of both the public and Obamacare. The exchange subsidies — which will involve about 2 percent of the public getting discounts on overpriced insurance premiums in 2014 — are part of a very problematic system that needs to be replaced with a functional insurance market, but they are hardly the worst part of that system, and they are hardly well suited to get the nation “hooked” on anything.

I certainly agree that “hooked on the sugar” was an “unfortunate formulation.” I also agree that there’s no “popular uprising” on behalf of liberty, just as I agree that the MSM is scoring only limited points by highlighting the alleged catastrophe (for those itching to visit National Parks, for example) that is the shutdown. Still, most Americans think that shutting down the government as a mode of governing is irresponsible.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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