A Special Note About the Current Crisis in Washington

In my 20 years in Washington, I’ve seen some remarkable things.   But what is happening this month, right now, feels like it may be the most important battle I’ve participated in since arriving here with the Clintons in early 1993. 

Why? Because the stakes are higher than any other battle I’ve been part of.  The Republican House, after passing a deeply ideological, feckless budget framework, have boycotted budget talks with the Senate for five months now, and failed to pass even a single appropriations bill.  Then, after agreeing to a temporary funding bill at their budgetary levels, they rejected their own agreement, shut the government down and have refused to open it back up despite a clear House majority who want it to re-open. 

First, the House Republicans failed to do their job; then they refused to work with the other chamber; now their tactics are doing grave harm to the United States; and, to make it all that much worse, they are now demanding to be rewarded for this history-making recklessness with a new Constitutional arrangement to give them, the minority, more power in our time tested political system (for more on the GOP’s demands see my recent essay).

So, while we’ve seen this behavior from the modern GOP before – previous shutdowns, a highly political Impeachment, threats of debt ceiling breaches, abuse of the filibuster, new restrictive voting laws, a court appointed President in 2000 – this current crisis is the most serious of all these moments.  The House GOP is creating fiscal, economic and Constitutional crises all at the same time.  And for what exactly?  The answer changes every day.  This behavior is so reckless, so childish, so dangerous, so counter to the American tradition that we cannot treat this moment as just another nasty partisan struggle.  This behavior is of a different order of magnitude in its destructiveness, and ambition. 

I have offered my thoughts in other venues about what has happened to the once proud party of Lincoln and Reagan, and why the crazy virus that has entered its politics has grown more virulent in recent years.  However we got here, it is more important than ever before for those of us who aspire to something better to ensure that groups like NDN/NPI – smart, sensible, forward looking and effective – have the resources needed to its job.  Despite all the gains and successes of recent years - and there have been many – the new recklessness of our opposition requires us to not stand pat, but to raise our game. 

I’m proud of the role this NDN/NPI has played over the past in decade in ushering a new and better politics for the country.   From immigration reform to new economic policies, to a new day in the Middle East to a new understanding of our rapidly changing domestic demography, from the power and potential of a world wired together to fashioning a new national energy policy, from a new approach to Cuba to modern policies towards our Southwest border and Mexico itself, NDN/NPI has been at the cutting edge of our most important debates here in DC.  We’ve ignored the momentary obsessions of an inward looking town, and tried to identify the next debates, the next understandings, the next strategic battles, the next solutions critical to bringing in a better politics for our country.  But am mindful that for us to keep doing our part, and to ensure this new, more reckless brand of conservatism does not win the day, we need your support.  Please consider making a contribution to NDN for any amount -$10, $25, $100- today and help us keep bringing forth quality work.

Sitting in DC today, it is hard to be optimistic.  The conditions that created this ugly October aren’t going away any time soon.  But optimistic I remain.  For I know that together we’ve done a lot of good over many years and helped usher in a new and better political era.  It is just very very clear today that our work isn’t done.  We have a lot more to do.  So let’s get to it, together….