Context on the Shutdown

Your viewpoint on the GOPs tactics depends less (or should depend less) on your feelings about the existential threat of Obamacare, and more on the precedent it sets. The precedent for using a non-partisan crisis as a hostage for partisan gains, and the precedent it sets for constitutional powers. This is a genuine constitutional crisis.

Jonathan Chait is easily my favorite writer on what is really going on. But the best context is from Abraham Lincoln. Yes, that Abraham Lincoln.

From the Cooper Union address of 1860.

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events. This, plainly stated, is your languageā€¦

In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me – my money – was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principleā€¦.

Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong…