First, I grabbed this picture of Cruz from this very cogent Salon article by Brian Beutler. Doesn’t he look like a silent movie villain? Here’s Beutler’s money quote: “Boehner and other Republican leaders never wanted a government shutdown at all. They know a shutdown hurts people and that the political cost to them will likely be severe. But now they’re in it, they don’t think they can embarrass themselves by folding…It’s a monstrous application of the sunk cost fallacy.”
Or maybe it’s cognitive dissonance. Leon Festinger’s classic WHEN PROPHECY FAILS notes that cultists often redouble their proselytizing activities when their beliefs are publicly disconfirmed–provided that they held them sincerely and, most important, that sufficient social support is available, that they are a part of a community of confirmed true believers.
Second, though it’s usually conspiracists that accuse the government of “manufacturing crises,” this time around it’s the right that’s conjured one, and it’s no “false flag.” The scariest thing, though, is that a lot of them don’t seem to realize what they’re playing with–they actually think this is just political theater. Here’s Michael Reagan:
I don’t care if the United States government goes bankrupt for a few months. It’s no big deal in the long run. Congress will just pass another continuing resolution to fund government.
Then, two months later, when the debt ceiling is raised by Congress, as it always is, everyone who’s owed money by the federal government will be paid retroactively and it will be business as usual until the next debt “crisis.”
I was just on the radio saying how back in the good old days of the nuclear standoff, everybody knew what the worst case scenario was and nobody wanted to test it. When it came down to it with Cuba, both sides backed away from the brink.
But that wasn’t strictly true, even back then. Remember those Reagan era Dr. Strangeloves who argued that tactical nuclear wars were “winnable”–and that civil defense could make it possible to survive a first strike with acceptable casualty levels? Think about that the next time you read about how a default won’t be that bad. God may not play dice with the universe but there are a lot of people who would if they got the chance. And they just might, in a matter of days.