David Drucker, writing in the right-wing Washington Examiner, chooses to emphasize the divisions in the Republican Party and to amplify the message of the dissenters who never wanted a fight over ObamaCare that could lead to a government shutdown. He uses some math that is becoming familiar:
The growing group of lawmakers was publicly silent until now, voicing concerns privately only to their GOP colleagues while publicly rallying around the proposal, in part, to ensure the GOP caucus maintained a united front. With the government now closed and Democrats refusing to negotiate any changes to Obamacare, these Republicans are saying flatly that they’ve had it…
…There are 233 Republicans in the House, and most of them never approved of using the threat of a government shutdown to slow Obamacare, a strategy spearheaded by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, and adopted by a few dozen House Republicans. It was plainly obvious that the GOP did not have the 60 votes needed to advance the bill in the Democratic Senate and Republicans didn’t have enough votes in either chamber to override President Obama’s certain veto.
The “few dozen” number puts the size of the Tea Party suicide brigade at somewhere between 36 and 60, which corresponds to the other number I keep seeing (180) for the dissenting faction. With 233 members, perhaps 53 are in favor of the shutdown and 180 are against it.
If the numbers are indeed that lopsided, it doesn’t bode well for the long-term cohesiveness of the House GOP. Yet, so far, almost of all the House Republicans who have been willing to go on the record are from culturally blue states or are representing a lot of government employees. I wouldn’t describe all these members as politically vulnerable, as most of their districts are drawn to be safe. But they are culturally alienated. You can be fairly invulnerable in your gerrymandered district in the Philly suburbs, but that doesn’t mean you can explain yourself or your party at the supermarket. As for the Virginia lawmakers with a lot of government employees, they are completely freaking out.
I try to be a forgiving person, but some cases are harder than others. I can’t read Andrew Sullivan’s vituperative denunciations of the “nullification party” without harkening back to his Oedipus Rex-level of blindness during all the years that he served as a cheerleader for the rise of party of Tom DeLay. But now he gets it, and your average Mid-Atlantic Republican gets it, too. The modern GOP is (deep-) southern culturally, and increasingly secessionist in temperament.
I am reminded of what William F. Buckley (not a southerner) wrote in his 1955 mission statement for the newly-launched National Review:
The launching of a conservative weekly journal of opinion in a country widely assumed to be a bastion of conservatism at first glance looks like a work of supererogation, rather like publishing a royalist weekly within the walls of Buckingham Palace. It is not that, of course; if NATIONAL REVIEW is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.
Setting aside the familiar conceit that, despite any indications to the contrary, the country is a bastion of conservatism, the inclination to stand athwart history yelling “Stop!” is fundamental to what we are witnessing right now. History, after all, doesn’t stop. It grows insuppressibly with each tick of the clock. Even as the government is shut down to frustrate the launch of the health care exchanges, the health care exchanges are launched on schedule. Meanwhile, the Tea Party suicide brigade remains back at the starting blocks, stuck in the world as it existed on September 13, 2012. Or, perhaps, November 19, 1955 at 8:00am, which is the publication date of the first National Review. I read somewhere that the Romney campaign spent more money advertising on reruns of The Andy Griffith Show than they did on any other single program. That was both appropriate and ironic. It was appropriate because the show depicts an idealized 1950’s southern town that corresponds heavily with conservatives’ view of a perfected and disappearing America. It was ironic because Andy Griffith was one of the biggest supporters of the Affordable Care Act.