While beltway media portrays a dual effort by Republicans and Democrats to avoid a government shutdown, the unavoidable question must be asked; hasn’t a shutdown been the GOP’s goal the entire time? The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry agreed with Rachel Maddow on her show last night that many of the programs—and individuals—that have been targeted for funding cuts are beloved in American society; post office employees, teachers, Medicare. But the Republican Party, with little resistance from Democratic leaders, has been able to successfully demonize these figures and programs.

According to Harris-Perry, the GOP has manipulated popular opinion by linking these programs and workers with “less beloved” figures in American society: African Americans, poor people and immigrant populations.

“The growth of the African American middle class in the 1970’s was mostly men working at post offices and women working as teachers,” she says. “Republicans have been very successful in linking… even things for example like public schools to populations and communities that are less beloved, more stereotyped, more stigmatized. They’ve been able to lap those onto each other and sort of create these anxieties in populations that actually need and benefit from—on a daily basis—government actions.”

And its not a coincidence, she says, that these attacks were launched during tax season, when negative feelings towards the government may be strongest.

—Sara Jerving