Dems are the government employee party
This is an interesting little piece on the "shutdown" from The Week. The point is made that Democrats are overly concerned with the plight of federal bureaucrats and that if Dems want to win the showdown with the President they need to take another tack.
Almost no block votes more reliably for the Democratic Party than government workers of all types. Dems want to raise taxes generally. These taxes go to fund the government class. But Dem support for Leviathan is on particular display right now as the party seeks to illicit sympathy from the broader public. That is, the taxpaying public.
Small-government Republicans have long insisted that federal workers do very little that's essential — that most are paper-pushers collecting larded up paychecks and absurdly generous benefits in return for loyalty to the Democratic Party (through both votes for Democratic candidates and union dues that reliably end up lining party coffers). Focusing on the suffering of these employees during the shutdown, however humane it might be, tacitly confirms this narrative by making it look like the primary concern of the Democratic Party is the plight of federal workers rather than the good of the country as a whole. That's politically perilous for Democrats.
All of the above is basically true. Our question is, where are these "small-government Republicans"? We've been looking for some for years. Aside from less than a handful in Congress, "small government" and "Republican" don't really go together.