Ted Cruz is urging Republicans in Congress to fight to defund the ObamaCare Tax train wreck and stated that he feels many in the GOP are too frightened to do so. Apparently, the 1995-1996 shutdowns were such a disaster for the GOP that many “top” Republicans are worried about another one.  On the one hand, they have a point.  The media will do exactly what it did in the mid-90’s and blame the “obstructionist” GOP for shutdowns that Clinton then / Obama now force, and yes, many Americans will gobble that up, just as they did in the Gingrich showdown. And while Obama is weaker in the polls now than he’s been, he’s still got decent favorability ratings (not that I can fathom why, but there it is).

Harry Reid, apparently never tiring of making up his own facts, is already warning against a shutdown and urges Republicans to ask Newt Gingrich about government shutdowns:

“If Republicans force us to the brink of another government shutdown for ideological reasons, the economy will suffer,” Reid said. “I would suggest to any of my Republican colleagues that has this idea: Give a call to Newt Gingrich. He’ll return your phone calls. Ask him how it worked. It was disastrous for Newt Gingrich, the Republicans and the country.”

Which brings us to the other hand, what really happened during and as a result of that first shutdown?  Not a whole lot bad, and quite a bit good:

As recent Washington arrival Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pointed out, “we didn’t default on our debt” after the 1995 shutdown battle between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. “And the result was balanced budgets — and some of the greatest fiscal responsibility we have seen in modern times from Congress — because fiscal conservatives stood together and said, ‘We need to be responsible.’”

Gingrich, who has seemed to have some reservations about the shutdown through the years, now defends it in the context of policy, recently saying, “We would never have gotten to a balanced budget and we would never have gotten welfare reform without that fight.” (source)

It also seems to have been the impetus for Clinton to shift to center–only after the ’95-’96 shutdowns did he make his famous statement that “the era of big government is over.”  That, in and of itself, was worth it.  The two additional Senate seats the GOP gained in the 1996 election didn’t hurt, either, particularly as they were able to hold on to their majority in the House–something the Democrats could not do after passing the ObamaCare Tax nightmare in ’09.  In fact, passing that travesty led directly into the 2010 “shellacking,” a stunning defeat for Democrats not only in Congress but across the nation: Republicans made major gains in state legislatures (“Across the nation, only 15 Republican incumbents were defeated while 492 Democratic incumbents were defeated.”) and gained 12 governorships.

What is the likely outcome of another government shutdown?  Bob Schieffer, back in 2011 when a shutdown was imminent that had nothing to do with the ObamaCare Tax disaster, had the right idea:

“We’re into a blame game now. Both sides are trying to blame the other side if the government does shut down,” he added. “They’ve got to get off that and get to thinking about the people that sent them Washington to represent them. This is a shameful episode in the history of the Congress, and I think if this government does shut down for any length of time people are not going to look for who to blame, they’re going to blame all of them.”

Exactly.  Both parties will likely receive blame for any shutdown now; the media and Democrats will work hard to put that blame on Republicans, as they have for everything for the past four years (and without the success they’d like), and the Republicans will flail around for the most part and blame Democrats.  But the people will probably blame them both, and that’s as good as a win for both sides (Dems lose points, so does the GOP, and the losses will be relatively balanced if both sides are blamed).  It may even work out better for Republicans because this time the central issue is funding for the ObamaCare Tax lunacy, and it’s less popular now than it was leading into the 2010 midterms.

I think it’s fair to say, as have many of these same Republicans who are cowering in a corner at the thought of a government shutdown, that the nation is polarized far more than it was in the mid-90’s (and that’s saying something for those of us who remember the HillaryCare debacle).  This polarization means that there is little patience for wobbly Republicans who think they can get away with selling out conservative principles and cling to a fast-disappearing “middle.”  Add in the fact that ObamaCare gets less popular with each passing day, and squishy Republicans who refuse to stand and fight to defund it now will wish they had after the 2014 midterms.