October 4, 2013 · Lessig
In The Daily Beast, I lamented a certain political innovation of the GOP (fearful the Dems would then copy it and it would become SOP). Some have questioned whether indeed there is any innovation here. But I was careful in crafting my essay to make the turns necessary to distinguish this example from past examples.
In my view, the elements in the current game are first a grave threat (“the likely default on United States debt [which] could be catastrophic”) and second, the “forc[ing of] changes in existing law when it can’t with honesty say that it represents a majority”
These two parts work together: Maybe grave threats are fine in the name of an obvious or clear majority; maybe minority holdouts are fine when they don’t risk grave threats (It’s one thing to pretend to fire a handgun; it’s quite a different thing to pretend to fire a handgun on a jet 30,000 in the air.) My claim is that these two together are an “innovation.”
That is different from saying that “non-budget items have never been attached to the debt ceiling.” And it’s obvious different from saying we’ve never had a shut down. Indeed, since 1976 those have been quite common.
The “innovation” is not the shut down, or even the demand: It is demand like this (without a claim to majority support) threatening a harm like this (default).
(Original post on Tumblr)