Surfing False Equivalence

If you follow the back-and-forth on the tube today, the thing to watch is the GOP effort to surf false equivalence about the government shutdown Republicans have provoked in order to give themselves leverage they otherwise would not have.

Every time you hear low-information Women and Men on the Street express frustration over politicians “behaving like children” and having “sandbox fights,” you are hearing a vote for a “compromise” between the disabling of Obamacare and the appropriations status quo (including a sequestration most Democrats oppose) to resolve the “crisis.”

Every time you hear highly-paid pundits complain about “extremists in both parties” creating “gridlock” and “stalemate” and economic peril, you are hearing the scrape of a chair being pulled up to a table where Republicans will have a “seat” to present their demands as though they are one side of a difference of opinion.

Since the White House and congressional Democrats have refused to cave right away, and the initial polling looks really bad for the GOP, false equivalence is their best and perhaps only weapon. Watch it fire again and again.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.