Here's the thing to keep in mind about the government shutdown: it's undemocratic.
If a straight up or down vote were allowed in the House and Senate on a clean bill that simply kept the government running, it would pass easily. The problem is the Hastert Rule, named after former Speaker Dennis Hastert. His rule was that the House Republicans would not even take up a bill that didn't have the support of a majority of his own caucus.
So because the extremist tea party caucus holds enough votes to prevent a majority of Republicans from supporting a budget resolution that doesn't include a defunding of Obamacare and a bunch of other right-wing demands, a clean bill won't even be brought up for a vote.
Eventually, the Hastert Rule will have to be broken by Speaker John Boehner, at peril to his job. When that happens, almost all the Democrats will join the sane Republican moderates and the government will be back in business. Or Boehner could dodge that by allowing enough of his members to sign a discharge petition that would get a clean bill to the floor without his approval.
The bigger danger here is, in doing the right thing, Boehner may get voted out as speaker and replaced by a true whack-job. This may sound odd coming from a liberal Democrat, but given the alternatives, we’re lucky to have him.
Here's the final irony. Tea partiers go around saying that they want to restore democracy and the constitution. But the Hastert Rule is most definitely not democratic and certainly wasn't anticipated by the Founders. The tea partiers are using the ways of Washington to thwart the very democracy and Constitution they so pompously like to say they are protecting.