I think the real problem with the debt ceiling vote is that we haven’t been alarmist enough.
In general, in politics, this is not a problem. “If you don’t vote for this, they’ll eat your family!” everyone screams. “Grandma is going to be pushed off a cliff by diabolical horsemen!” “We’ll bring Lorena Bobbitt and Catherine Kieu Becker to your home!” “Okay, okay,” we say. “Pass us that health-care legislation and we’ll sign it.”
But somehow, a significant proportion of Americans don’t seem to sense what a big deal this debt ceiling thing is. It’s the same thing that happened to climate change, because if you are relying on Al Gore to supply you with a sense of urgency, you should expect to wait a long time. Gore is about as skilled at conveying urgency as the DMV.
Maybe we should go for broke (too soon?) and try to inflate (too soon?) the urgency of the situation by focusing on worst-case scenarios (too soon? Sorry, got carried away there).
If we don’t raise the debt ceiling, here are the absolute worst things that could happen.
-Debt will keep bumping its head whenever it tries to stand up.
-Direwolves will come pouring into country and devour everything.
-Grendel’s mother will come and seize anyone who voted against raising the debt, bash them in the head and stomp out of the mead hall.
-Bernie Sanders will read a long, indignant letter.
-Some guy will show up insisting we owe him a pound of flesh and refuse to leave unless a cross-dressing lawyer lectures him about straining the quality of mercy.
-Casey Anthony will go free!
-Y2K will actually happen!
-Mayans will return to Earth a year early and ask for the keys back, just to show how disappointed they are.
-America will be frozen in carbonite and shipped to Jabba the Hutt’s palace.
-M. Night Shyamalan will make another movie.
-America’s wife will leave, because America promised things would be different this time, and America’s Wife is still young enough to want a real life with someone who shares her values.
-All firstborn children will perish under mysterious circumstances.
-America will have to sell its treasured collection of mint-condition baseball cards and U.S. Mint memorabilia.
-Alexander Hamilton will appear to us in nightmares and try to kill us, “Nightmare on Elm Street”-style.
-A giant meteor will crash into Earth, ending all sentient life.
All these things could happen if we fail to pass the debt ceiling increase! Sure, correlation might not imply causation, but when has that ever stopped anyone from using an argument before?
Besides, these possibilities all sound more exciting than “default.”