The ongoing debate in Congress around the government shutdown and debt ceiling has conservatives pitted against liberals andconservatives pitted against conservatives. As the shutdown goes into its third week tomorrow, and a vote on the debt ceiling is coming up on Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives are coming under increasing pressure to give up their strategy of taking the country for ransom to achieve their legislative goals.
Republicans have failed to unify under some common endpoint of negotiations as more legislators are abandoning the effort to defund Obamacare. While the Senate has given up this tack, the House, where politicians tend to be more narrow-minded because they represent smaller and more narrow-minded districts, has continued full-steam ahead despite a tidal wave of public opinion against them.
While many House Republicans (%10.5 of which are members of the Tea Party) are reigning in districts that are not competitive in any respect due to recent redistricting, the stance on the shutdown and debt ceiling is making it harder for GOP candidates in more representative elections, like senatorial, gubernatorial, and presidential elections.
For example, Republican Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, a Tea Party conservative, recently saw his poll numbers plummet in an upcoming gubernatorial election because of a backlash against the GOP’s hostage-taking tactics. Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling states: “Now Democrats have been able to use the shutdown to remind mainstream Virginia voters about what their concerns are: Would Ken Cuccinelli be able to govern in a mainstream way? Or would he govern the state in the style you are seeing in D.C.?”
While certain conservative districts may support their representatives in taking the government and its credit rating hostage, most Americans support more traditional methods of passing laws. One (admittedly sane) idea would be to win elections. To make laws tailored to your party’s views, you have to have a majority of representatives in both houses and win presidential elections – it’s that simple. Obamacare was passed by both houses, signed by the president, and even upheld by the Supreme Court. Not to mention that health care played an extremely prominent role in the 2012 presidential debates.
Tea-Party favorite Paul Ryan recently accused the White House of “trying to cut the house out, and trying to jam us with the Senate.” Really? From my viewpoint it feels more like the GOP House is trying to cut the American people, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court out, and jam us with their lousy ideas. While many Republicans in the House who are devoted to continuing the shutdown are safe in their district seats, the larger goal of moving America towards fiscal responsibility will be that much further away after all-but-sure resounding upsets in the 2014 Congressional elections.