Politics & Policy

#ShutDownForWhat Fails to Impress

The Democrats do their best Lil Jon impression.

Democrats can’t put together a working health-care plan and can’t stop people from jumping over fences at either the White House or the border with Mexico. But are they ever in tune with the social-media generation! And because kids these days think 9/11 is when Pearl Harbor shot Kennedy, the Democratic party’s official Twitter account is reminding America about some forgotten recent history: last year’s partial shutdown of portions of the federal government.

The Democrats created the hashtag #ShutDownForWhat last week in an effort to remind people that non-essential federal employees were furloughed last year amid continuing arguments between the two major parties over debt, spending, and the impending rollout of Obamacare. All furloughed employees ended up getting paid in full for their enforced time off, and the much feared and ballyhooed government shutdown was quickly forgotten as the late-2013 news was dominated by the disastrous non-performance of the HealthCare.gov website.

But the Democrats are kicking it Old Skool, oozing cool factor by facetiously outfitting prominent Republican politicians in Technicolor sunglasses and wife-beaters in a goof on DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s rave favorite “Turn Down for What.” One meme, featuring Senators Rand Paul (Kentucky), Marco Rubio (Florida), and Ted Cruz (Texas), says, “A majority of American disapprove of the GOP after the government shutdown, and I’m one of them.” The text of the tweet reads, “RT to tell these guys that you remember the shutdown, and you vote.”

Another meme, posted on @TheDemocrats official Twitter page, shows Rubio wearing giant headphones next to the sentence, “I shut down the government and it cost us 120,000 jobs.”

Although the social-media campaign is official Democratic-sanctioned strategy, the message is mixed, with each tweet blaming a different random Republican for the shutdown.

Despite the deep thought that went into the campaign, it doesn’t seem to be resonating.

In a statement last week, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Steve Israel said, “There is one thing voters remember above all else about this Republican Congress: one year ago tonight, House Republicans shut down the government for the first time in 17 years, costing our economy $24 billion and sticking middle-class families with the tab. Americans have not forgotten the damage House Republicans inflicted on this country with their manufactured crisis, and they will not forget when they head to voting booths in November.”

Actually, it seems that voters have forgotten. Though Republican popularity took a hit last fall, the shutdown had no negative impact on U.S. economic performance as measured by growth or unemployment. More important, polling in recent weeks has shown a sharp decline in negative views of the GOP since last year and in increase in positive views, with no evidence that many voters even remember, let alone resent, the shutdown.

The Hill’s Jessica Taylor wrote Thursday, “[In 2013], Democrats were giddy over the potential political payoff after GOP obstructionism shuttered the government for 16 days. . . . Democrats privately said at the time that they could take the House back. They’re not saying that any more.”

While #ShutDownForWhat has had no success in embedding the long-ago shutdown as a campaign issue, it has had one major side effect: leaving Twitter users with that Lil Jon song stuck in their heads.

— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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