Mr. Speaker, A Quick Word Please About the Shutdown


It may seem odd for a lowly real estate agent to presume to tell the Speaker of the House what to do, Mr. Speaker, but it appears you need to be told the obvious.

First, the Tea Party folks who you seem so concerned about aren’t interested in negotiating. Negotiations only can take place when both sides have at least the appearance of leverage. Despite what Senator Cruz may seem to believe, the GOP has zero leverage right now. Do you know what negotiating without any leverage really amounts to?


Don’t get me wrong. Several of my friends who are fellow Republicans still are echoing the same, worn talking points that did absolutely nothing for the GOP a year ago when the Republicans were unable to oust a fairly ineffective, somewhat wounded president. They are the ones who still refer to Obama as Barry, much as my father did before he passed away, as if two elections didn’t take place and he didn’t win the majority of the vote either time.

I didn’t vote for him myself, incidentally. No, I stayed with my party and the party of my parents even as the GOP could find only lackluster, more or less unelectable candidates to put on the national ticket.

Posturing’s all well and good when there isn’t a major crisis in the works. When there is, however, when there are one of those things W called decision points, posturing has to give way to negotiation from whatever position of strength can be mustered.

Not that the GOP has any position of strength, unless that 74 percent disapproval rating is a mirage.

See, that’s really the problem here. Someone – perhaps the voices in Senator Cruz’s head – seem to be telling GOP leadership that by holding firm, that by keeping the government shut down as long as possible as the junior senator from Texas has said, blame will be heaped upon the Democrats.

Except it doesn’t really work that way. Ask any of your staffers to put together an abstract on where blame fell for the Great Depression and the impact the Depression had on the Republican party for the next 50 years. (And even you know better than to point to Eisenhower, a non-political being that ran as a Republican, or Nixon, who was at best a moderate – when he could be pinned down on anything at all.)

Maybe the GOP won’t disappear entirely – federal funding laws weren’t around to save the Whigs back in the day – but the party’s taking one hell of a hit. And all because of a vocal minority that, if anything, should be shunted aside much as the Know Nothing’s were cast to the curb back in the mid-1800s.

(Incidentally, take a look at the Know Nothing’s platform on such things as immigration. You’ll discover that the Tea Party folks you’re dealing with now have a lot in common with that not-so-grand ol’ party. Better yet, since you’re busy, just ask for an abstract on it. You’ll start crying again, I guarantee.)

All of this isn’t an unfamiliar situation to us lowly real estate professionals, incidentally. We spend out lives negotiating with people who are letting emotion get in the way of the ultimate goal. And it’s our job, as the real estate professional, to use whatever leverage we happen to have to negotiate with the other party from whatever position of strength we can find, keeping in mind the ultimate purpose of all of this is for one party to purchase a property and the other to sell.

If that doesn’t happen, we as real estate professionals have failed – even when it’s not our fault, one agent or the other failed to educate his or her client about the reality of the situation and help guide them toward the most profitable possible resolution.

Now, I’ll quickly say that I don’t understand the Affordable Care Act enough to know whether it’s good or bad policy. But I do know enough to know that a government shutdown and a possible default on the nation’s debt is terrible policy.

If you want to defund Obamacare or alter it, that’s fine. Get the votes behind you and do what you need to do. If you don’t have the votes, though, it’s time to reexamine the ground on which you stand and determine another method of passing what you believe to be necessary.

Until you have that majority, however, you’re letting a minority of your caucus drive the GOP bus into a ditch.

So ditch them first, regain control of your caucus and return to the notion that it’s not weakness for one party to dare speak to the other.

It’s not weakness. It’s your job as a legislator. As a negotiator. And as a leader.

UPDATE – 12:31 PM MST – Speaker Boehner said he’ll let the House vote on the Senate’s bipartisan deal. Said Boehner in a phone interview, “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.” Good thinking, John. And thanks for reading my blog for guidance.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at