How long will the government shutdown last? That will depend on how the markets on Wall Street react.
That's the opinion of Stephen Farnsworth, University of Mary Washington
professor of Political Science and International Affairs and director of
the Center for Leadership and Media Studies.
"Wall Street was really troubled by the shutdown in 2006, and it forced the Republicans to recapitulate," he said. "Depending on how the markets react to this shutdown, Republicans may make a hasty retreat," he said.
"House Republicans opposed to the government's continued operation represent districts which have been gerrymandered to the extreme," Farnsworth said. "These Republicans are doing what would make their constituents happy," he said.
The reason Republicans in the House are having such an awful time convincing Senate Republicans to go along is Senators are not susceptible to gerrymandering since they represent entire states.
"So even though the Republicans will suffer more in the polls than Obama or the Democrats, in the court of public opinion, these individuals are doing what makes sense in those individual districts," he said.
A powerful negative reaction on Wall Street could change things. "Many of the people in the Tea Party are close to retirement age and are very worked-up about their pensions," Farnsworth said.
Republicans in the House could capitulate as early as today, Farnsworth said, pass a temporary spending measure and fight this fight again in two to three weeks. But it will probably last longer, he said.
"This has been two years in the making," Farnsworth said. "This did not happen at once and it's not going to be fixed at once," he said.
"This is no way to run a government," he said. "A government which cannot keep its lights on will not be seen by Iran or Syria as a credible threat," he said.
"I think President Obama has been very effective in presenting himself the last six years as a sensible and reasonable person," Farnsworth said. Due to objections from the Republicans, for example, the president reduced the size of the stimulus, Farnsworth said.
In addition, Obama dropped the public option to the health care bill in response to Republican objections -- even though the law had been upheld by the Supreme Court.
"I think Obama is a little tired of playing rub-a-dub with the House Republicans," Farnsworth said. "Since he is in his second term, since he was reelected, he is in a very strong position to call the Republicans' bluff on the government shutdown."
Farnsworth said constituents
should contact their lawmakers and tell them what they think, and vote at the
next election for or against the way those in elected office are handling this.
"Elected officials are picking us," Farnsworth said. "It's the exact opposite of what the founders intended," he said. "We [the voters] are supposed to be picking them," he said.
"Representative government gives elected officials a wide latitude to do what they see fit, as long as they are far enough away from the next election or the strictest gerrymandering," he said.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell talked about ending partisan redistricting strategies in the Commonwealth, similar to that accomplished in Iowa and California. "McDonnell proposed the idea to the legislature, but it didn't get far," Farnsworth said.
Why not in Virginia? "Different political cultures have different political will," Farnsworth said.