Why not shut down the shutdowners?

A friend posted this article on Facebook. Provided the fundamental point of the article is true (and it does pass the smell test, at least to me), then here is my question:

Why is John Boehner letting this minority of Republicans cripple his party?

Regardless of why the shutdown was implemented, it’s a PR nightmare for the GOP. The Democrats will probably get some blowback, too, but they’ve successfully maneuvered themselves into the position of victims. I’m not talking about reality here, just the perception of reality.

So, the obvious solution (at least to me) is to kick the recalcitrant few out of the Republican Party. Force them to run as independents or, maybe, try to form a third party.

You will doubtless say, “but Tony, won’t that split the Republican vote? The GOP would be committing suicide in 2014!”

My response: “They committed suicide the moment they even obliquely endorsed something as incredibly stupid as the government shutdown. This is acknowledging that fact and trying to recover in time for 2016.”

John Boehner would probably lose any credibility he has left. Again, why is this bad?

I await Kevin’s response (and maybe other readers too!).

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2 thoughts on “Why not shut down the shutdowners?

  1. Approximately three paragraphs in, I’m already rolling my eyes. Let’s just say that Jonathan Chait is not an expert on the Republican Party or interested in telling a fair story if it means his side doesn’t get to come out smelling like roses. Here’s a hint as to his standing: was he criticizing Democrats (including but not limited to then-Senator Barack Obama) who were “holding the debt ceiling hostage” back when it was a Republican president and Democratic Congress? Nope. The “epistemic closure” bit was a dead giveaway in the talking points game as well.

    There were two basic ideas here, one of which you mention here and one which Chait spends a lot of time on. I’ll cover them in turn.

    The first point, that you implicitly accept, is that a “radical fringe” or “recalcitrant few” have led to a government shutdown. There are two problems with this argument: first, that it isn’t House Republicans alone (or even primarily) who shut down the government, and second, this isn’t a “radical fringe” or “recalcitrant few”; it’s a pretty large section of both the Republican Party and American citizens. A plurality of Americans may blame Republicans, but remember that the House has passed a budget as well as individual continuing resolutions on higher-profile items that the Democrat-run Senate refuses to take up. You could argue that the government would not have shut down had Republicans capitulated to Harry Reid’s wishes, but that’s not exactly a strong rallying cry.

    So basically, your argument is to kick out approximately 2/3 of the Republican members of the House and roughly 2/3 of core Republican voters who either support or at least do not blame House Republicans over the partial government shutdown (which would get bigger the longer it goes on). Electoral math doesn’t really work out well when you ditch a majority of the people most likely to support your cause. Furthermore, what mechanism would you use to kick them out? John Boehner doesn’t get to determine who’s a Republican and who isn’t. Certain legislative rules assign caucusing for current Congressmen (e.g., when a third-party candidate caucuses with one of the major parties or after a candidate switches parties), but no House member—even the speaker—doesn’t get to decide who’s in the Republican party and who isn’t. Neither does the RNC or any other officially-recognized group. The only way to do what you want would be if superior (from your perspective) Republicans run and win primaries six-plus months from now…but then you’re talking about primarying out candidates the most avid part of the base (and most likely group of primary voters) supports. Good luck with that one.

    The other point involves the debit ceiling, whose increase the very life of the republic (according to Chait) depends upon. He is wrong. If the debt ceiling doesn’t get raised, it’s not the end of the United States; instead, the federal government would need to prioritize paying down the debt and reduce spending elsewhere to cover it.

    • Regarding the mechanism — the RNC could refuse to sanction particular candidates or endorse other alternatives. That was the mechanism I was referring to.

      Now, to your broader criticism. If the author is wrong, he’s wrong. If this truly is two-thirds of the House Republicans supporting something, then obviously my solution wouldn’t work. I couldn’t read one of your articles (link wasn’t working for some reason), but you generally tend to be more in tune with domestic politics than I am, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

      My question, then, is what do they hope to gain? They had to recognize defunding even 17% of the government would be incredibly unpopular (which your post backs up.) What’s the end game? A Democrat controlled Senate would never agree to repeal Obamacare. If the goal is a substantial revision of Obamacare, again, why do something so unpopular for such a minimal gain? (I’m not ignoring your point that the Democrats and/or Obama had some role in shutting down the government, but right or wrong, the American public doesn’t see it that way.)

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