The government shutdown in Minnesota is a preview of what's to come in national politics. A Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, wants to close the deficit with taxes on the rich. A Republican legislature says the governor is playing class warfare and that spending needs to be cut. Similar battle lines already have been drawn in the nation's capital.
The last time there was a nationwide government shutdown, President Bill Clinton persuaded Americans that Republicans in Congress, Newt Gingrich in particular, were responsible for furloughs, closed museums, and delayed payments.
The 1995 episode has led many, including me, to believe that the executive always has the advantage in a shutdown fight. A contrary argument says that the political and economic circumstances have changed radically between the early Clinton era and today. America faces the looming prospect of insolvency or default, and there is a broad consensus that government needs to be cut and the tax code reformed. In this reading, the party that wants to raise taxes while making empty gestures toward reducing spending — think donkeys — will pay a political price.
I can't tell you who’s going to win the battle in Washington. But I do know that Republicans and Democrats will be watching what happens in Minnesota very, very closely.