The “Shutdown” Cage Match

On the one hand, Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo points out 15 signs shutdown fans have “drunk the koolaid“:

There has been, to put it mildly, some mass self-delusion going on in right-wing circles. Here’s how to tell if you are suffering from the ill-effects of the echo chamber.

On the other hand?  Steven Hayward atPower Lineis a convert:

First of all, like the sequester, have the majority of Americans noticed its effects beyond what the media has been screaming about?  The bullying tactics of forcibly shutting off public spaces like the World War II memorial on the mall has surely inflicted damage on Obama that, had he behaved with minimal restraint, he might have been spared.

Beyond this, have there been riots or even public demonstrations against the shutdown?  The political-financial crises in Europe and elsewhere in recent years have seen mass protests and street riots (Spain, Brazil, Greece, Bulgaria, etc).  Where is Occupy Wall Street when Obama needs them?  To the contrary, much more of the political energy appears to be on the Tea Party side right now.  Pretty clearly the shutdown terrifies liberals and journalists—and that’s about it.

Of course, it might be pointed out that this is a faux-shutdown: 80 percent of the government is up and running.  This is analogous to TSA airport security: it is shutdown theater rather than the real thing.  Stop sending Social Security checks and see what happens.

A fair point, but this leads to the next big question: which party most needs the government to be up and running?  Ask yourself which party is the party of government and you’ll know the answer.  With 90 percent of the EPA furloughed, what’s the downside here for Republicans?

More seriously, to the extent that shutdown and “government dysfunction” in Washington causes the public to hold Washington in even greater disgust than usual, who does this hurt the most?  Democrats need the public to have some degree of confidence in government for their expansive schemes to succeed.  Which brings me to the latest soundings on public opinion that Karlyn Bowman and Andrew Rugg have put together and displayed in the charts below. 

Bottom line: public confidence in Washington D.C. is at lows not seen since the 1970s.  (And we know what happened at the end of that decade.)

The takeaway?  I think a competent GOP leadership could make this into a net win in 2014 for the GOP.

Which means we’re screwed.

But for the Tea Party, anyway.

Future Shock

One of the reasons the Democrats and media are working so hard to drive a wedge between the “establishment” GOP and the Tea Party is that the Tea Party wins elections and, more importantly, represents the real future of the GOP.

 Haley, a little-known state senator before being elected governor, would never have had a chance at becoming governor against the state’s good ol’ boy network of statewide officeholders. Scott would have been a long shot in his Republican primary against none other than Strom Thurmond’s youngest son. Marco Rubio, now the hyped 2016 presidential favorite, would have stepped aside to see now-Democrat Charlie Crist become the next senator, depriving the party of one of its most talented stars. Ted Cruz, the other Hispanic Republican in the Senate, would have never chanced a seemingly futile bid against Texas’s 67-year-old lieutenant governor, seen as a lock to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison.

But all those upset victories–all of which at the time seemed shocking–took place because of the conservative grassroots’ strong sentiment for outsiders who campaigned on their principles, and not over their past political or family connections. Even a decade ago, party officials would have been more successful in pushing these outsider candidates aside, persuading them to wait their turn. (In Rubio’s case, it almost worked.) Now, in an era where grassroots politicking is as easy as ever thanks to the proliferation of social media, more control is in the hands of voters. And contrary to the ugly stereotypes of conservative activists being right-wing to the point of racist, it’s been the tea party movement that’s been behind the political success of most prominent minority Republican officeholders.

That, of course, is not the current left and media (ptr) narrative about the Tea Party.  The media, and its rhetorical camp followers in the Leftyblogosphere Stupid Caucus, have been banging the “Teh Tea Partie is teh ignerent racisst” drum for close to four years now.

And in that time, the GOP overtook the Democrats in the number of elected minorities at the state level.

This is potentially good news, in the long term.

If the GOP deserves to keep it going.

Looking at Boehner’s performance this year, I’m seeing an obstacle or two.