Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: The White House continues to monitor the talks between top Dems and Repubs over the budget impasse. There haven’t been a lot of signs of movement, but thank goodness the president has my daily letter to read while he waits.
Dear Mr. President,
Have you been intrigued by the public response to the possibility of a government shutdown? Maybe you don’t have time for intrigue considering that Rome is burning and you are surrounded by fiddle players, but I have found it fascinating.
I am increasingly convinced that this is a political Rorschach test, and the reaction of voters tells us more about their general beliefs than their specific thoughts about this issue. Basically it seems to come down to this: Some people think it will be the end of life as we know it, and others think it will be like Columbus Day.
And I think this is why they think in those widely divergent ways: If you believe that government is fundamentally a positive influence on society - a solution rather than a problem most days at most times - you likely would be very concerned about the idea of it going out of business to a degree. It’s like contemplating the notion of gravity being turned off, or the sun going out.
On the other hand, if you believe the government is generally an impedance to progress - a problem more than a solution most days at most times - then you may not fear…indeed, may welcome the idea of it closing its doors for a spell. It’s like imagining how nice and quiet it will be if the neighbor turns off his leaf blower.
Of course the equation gets more complicated if you are talking about someone who works for the government (like you, ha!), or is waiting for a passport, or planning to camp in Yellowstone this weekend. But in a broad sense, I think the public reaction to this issue runs pretty true to the fault lines between the two parties here in D.C., but because the public is not steeped in this stuff all day, every day, like the D.C. crowd, there is just generally less interest in it than you might expect.
Just a thought. Hope you are doing well amid all the negotiations. If you need me to bring soda and chips over for everyone this evening, just give me a buzz. Heaven knows the government can’t afford to supply such things. Ha!
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