A house divided: The GOP dialogue continues

There’s a reason for it. It’s not going away.

I wrote a few days ago about the current division in the Republican Party, which is as profound as I can remember seeing it in my lifetime.  The dialogue on this isn’t going to end any time soon.  There’s a sense in which we would be shortsighted to want it to.  Some observations.

1.  Rush Limbaugh is right about the Tea Party and other limited-government conservatives.  They have been galvanized by the recent fight, not abashed.  The sense about Ted Cruz among limited-government conservatives may be best expressed by Lincoln’s famous exclamation in the face of criticism about Ulysses S. Grant: “I can’t spare this man – he fights!”

2.  The main argument of the “establishment” conservatives and Republicans rings hollow with the limited-government wing.  David French expresses it here:

One of the more irritating aspects of the recent government-shutdown unpleasantness has been the “I told you so” lamentations of the defund/delay plan’s critics — as if they had anything approaching a workable alternative.

That’s the problem: the establishment GOP had no alternative plan.  In fact, a number of commentators – including Charles Krauthammer and Karl Rove – made that point in the days just prior to the 1 October deadline.  They criticized the GOP leadership for not seeming to have a plan – a plan to at least use the leverage of the continuing-resolution deadline, or the debt ceiling deadline of 17 October, to get some concessions from Democrats on spending and the roll-out of Obamacare.  It was 27 September, then the 28th, then the 29th, then the 30th, and still the GOP leadership on the Hill did nothing.

Blaming Ted Cruz and the Tea Party for that looks like a dodge from out here, not a principled criticism.

3.  The end result of whatever the GOP did was going to be a cave-in.  The core problem is that everyone could see from the outset which party to the negotiations was most likely to cave: not Obama, not the congressional Democrats, not the congressional limited-government conservatives, but the GOP leadership.

It appears that the GOP leadership’s plan all along was to cave with a lower profile – get less negative press for caving – on the assumption that nothing else was possible.  Their complaint seems to be that Cruz and the Tea Party fouled that up for them.  If Beltway outsiders can see that, congressional Democrats and limited-government conservatives could see it too.

4.  There is a limit to what the voters are going to accept in that regard.  We are well beyond the inflection point in kicking the can down the road, whether in terms of the regulatory burden on the people, or the public impact of government’s fiscal operations.  For the middle-class householder across the fruited plain, there is no kicking the can: the consequences are here.  Jobs disappearing, insurance disappearing, goods disappearing from the supermarket shelves, prices going up for everything the people need, no one able to plan until he knows what the Fed, the EPA, or the Department of Health and Human Services will do tomorrow.

The consequences are here.  I don’t know how to put it more clearly.  Reality has already changed for the electorate.  It’s not 2008 anymore.  And the GOP isn’t addressing the voters where they are today.  It’s addressing them where it thought they were in 2008, when it lost the Oval Office and saw both houses of Congress remain in Democratic hands.

5.  Republicans have been doing the same thing over and over again since the 1930s – eventually reverting in each instance from our brief bursts of deregulation and fiscal soundness – and in that time, everything about the size and scope of government has gotten progressively worse.  It is vain in 2013 to argue that we haven’t given incrementalism and compromise a chance.  For 80 years, that’s all we have done, on balance.  We are where we are today because of it, not in spite of it.

6.  The reason the GOP is a house divided is precisely that reality has finally changed enough to wake the people up.  A very significant segment of the GOP “base” is certain that we cannot continue down the path we are on.  This segment of the base cannot agree to elect candidates who insist on hewing to our current path.  It cannot elect candidates who despise and excoriate those (like Ted Cruz) who recognize the peril our rights and our way of life are now in, because of how the U.S. federal government is being run.

7.  In short: our party differences are between one wing that says there is no crisis, and the other wing that says there is.

To test the proposition that there’s a crisis, I suggest considering what Republicans from the year 1950 would have thought if confronted with the choices we had in October 2013.  Would they have seen it as a crisis, that we had to make choices between a government shutdown that would affect so much of the economy – and so many individuals; a decision to raise a debt ceiling that was set in the multiple trillions of dollars, and in fact exceeded our annual GDP; and the implementation of a punishment for an unprecedented purchase mandate, imposed unequally on citizens by the federal government?

I submit that we could ask Democrats from 1950, and get the same answer we would get from Republicans.  The whole scenario would look to them like a nightmare crisis from, what? Weimar Germany?  Late-imperial Rome?  Science fiction?  How, they would wonder, did we ever get to such a point of out-of-control absurdity?

8.  No part of this “October 2013 crisis” equation is either sustainable or desirable.  The good news is that every part of it is artificial.  Not a single element of it has arisen naturally from the voluntary, ordinary activities of the people.  It’s all created by government policy.  Government policy is what dictates government’s size, and its impact on the economy.  Government policy is what has generated the colossal federal debt.  Government policy is what has created the new insurance-purchase mandate, and the punishment promised to the people if they don’t comply.

9.  Republicans disagree profoundly on how long we have to change government policy – how long before things are beyond repair – as well as on how that change should be approached.  In matters of state policy, I’m an incrementalist by temperament.  But I have reached the point where I am in sympathy with those who see a need for a more abrupt turn.

This doesn’t mean acting outside the constraints of the Constitution.  It is a form of libel to accuse the Tea Party/limited-government wing of trying to do so.  More than that, it’s a form of hysteria.  Such accusations need to stop.  America’s limited-government conservatives are the world’s most law-abiding “radicals”:  being asked to absorb all the pain of increasingly burdensome government policies, and yet doing little more than staging uniquely well-behaved public demonstrations, and showing support for politicians like Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin.

Far from acting outside the Constitution or America’s traditions of government, what the Tea Party and other limited-government conservatives are asking is that their elected representatives represent their wishes – first and foremost by acting within constitutional limits.

10.  The viability of the GOP hinges on its ability to address this division and the concerns of the GOP base.  There is much talk of a third party these days; apparently, Glenn Beck is doing a lot with the history of the Whigs in 19th-century American politics, and the birth of the Republican Party as an alternative third party in the 1850s.  (Someone who follows Beck’s programming can probably tell us more about that.)

Another model is the recent one, in which the more conservative, more libertarian Goldwater-Reagan wing assumed dominance in the GOP in the late 1970s.  That process took about 15 years (or about 25, if we date the process to the inception of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s landmark periodical National Review).

Both movements were followed by periods of electoral success.  By contrast, “establishment” Republicanism can point to no periods of dominance in the last 100 years in which it produced lasting or coat-tail success for GOP fortunes at the polls.

Can the “establishment” plan gain such electoral support in 2014?  I doubt it.  Waiting for a complex of vicissitudes to drive the voters your way makes you awfully dependent on how those vicissitudes go.  The “left wing” in politics does its main business through shaping vicissitudes, but that has never been the forte of the right wing, and it certainly isn’t something the establishment GOP knows how to do.

What I see is the necessity for a viable “GOP” to have a vision, a plan, and a way ahead.  It needs initiative, momentum, lift and thrust against the weight and drag of our past and our problems.  It won’t be “more of the same.”  It will come under relentless fire from both the left and the establishment right.  It will have to be prepared to keep fighting even if it loses battles.  It will have to count success in getting its message out and changing minds, before it can change the direction of government.

We are in uncharted territory today.  The answers for the GOP going forward may not be found in the events of the past.  That’s because the same is true for the nation.  If we look to the past – anyone’s past – all we see is a prospect of ruination and despair, from the starting point we occupy in October 2013.  And that is unacceptable.  So this dialogue in a house divided will continue.  The one thing that will guarantee destruction is not fighting it – which is why I admire and support Ted Cruz, even though his stand in the Senate at the end of September was a losing proposition.  He fights.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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20 thoughts on “A house divided: The GOP dialogue continues”

  1. I’m back! Briefly (I’ll try again later). (I’ll eschew all capitals and other textual emphasis except for exclamation points but consider this all a primal scream of frustration and anger).

    We have to wait!!!!!! The power and general circumstances to get what we want without waiting are not there now! To say now (!!!!!!!!!!!) is essentially the equivalent of saying never!!!!!!!!! Or 2020???? 2024??????? 2028???????? That long we cannot wait and we do not need to wait.

    To put it in the most selfish, narrow terms, I want freedom and and I want money $$$$$$, I want more of it, as much as possible of it ($$$$$$$$$$$$) and I want it as soon as possible ($$$$$$$$$$$) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I need to pay for my kids to go to school (any school the want, undergrad and grad) I want them to have nice clothes, cars, food $$$, etc. I will never be able to give them the type of wealth that, say a Mr. and Mrs. Cruz will be able to offer their kids (even though their mother is almost certainly just about as intelligent and capable as this particular couple) but I do want to give them some measure of security and comfort and for that we cannot wait beyond 2017 and we do not, if we are smart, HAVE to wait beyond 2017. This “fight”, that Senator Cruz, Heritage Action, Freedom Works, Senate Conservatives Fund and any other (though these are the big ones) snake oil salesman got us further from getting where we need to be in 2017, rather than closer. A “smart” fight with a well timed “cave” (if you wish and it would probably accurate) would have left us in exactly the same policy position but 10 net points (at least) higher in the generic ballot and much better positioned in the Senate (and we need LOTS of Senators in 2017). As it is we’re moved further from getting where we need to be in 2017 rather than closer.

    A good faith fight does not include lies and slander and people who are on our side. Criticize the WSJ editorial page for their stance on CIR but don’t accuse them of supporting Ocare or Mitt Romney both of which the persistently opposed and criticized (though they obviously supported Romney when he became the nominee). Don’t accuse Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard of the same when they, too were screaming for an alternative until the spring of 2012. Don’t say, as Ted Cruz did AGAIN last night that people who disagreed with his tactics are secret supporters of Ocare when just about all of them are fierce opponents. These are allies of the Tea Party not, as they are accused of being by “The Fighters” of Barak Obama and Harry Reid. And their “followers” believe them, all over talk radio, tweeter, Facebook, the blogs the people are falling for these lies and thinking, FALSELY, that these people are as much or more their enemies than Barak Obama. Try to move the “Establishment” to the right, try to stiffen their spine where it needs it (and there certainly are places and many individuals where it does and in whom it does) but don’t generate this baseless and self destructive anger.

    Elect Republican majorities and a Republican president in 2017. You do not need to “move to the middle” to do this but you need to be honest with the people you’re trying to lead, you have to be practical, you have to effective. Ted Cruz and company have been NONE of these things and they are “leading” us to defeat and the complete destruction of the country.

  2. On one the first comments I made on this blog I mentioned how astonished I was when my 3rd grade class voted overwhelmingly for Carter in 1980. For the subsequent 33 years I have almost constantly been surrounded by an overwhelming majority (2/1+ at least, 7/1+ on occasion) of rigid, reflexive, incorrigible lefties, (many of them were, not to put too fine a point on it, major league assholes (as lefties often tend to be), at the very least about political matters, but many of them have been and are very close relatives and intimate friends*), and immersed in a popular and media culture deeply inimical to the conservative world view but I have never felt so utterly unrepresented, desperate and alone and desperate as I have for the past 3 months. I have always been confident that there was a substantial part of the country, in many cases a majority, who shared my views about government, my values and my goals. Yet in those last 3 months (and perhaps I have been to some extent in denial about this for a while) it has become apparent that this last group, a minority of the Republican and center right coalition to be sure, but a crucially decisive minority, decisive in their views, decisive in their energy, decisive in their numbers, ESSENTIAL for victory, are fighting against THAT COALITION and against ME, that they somehow group stout members of that coalition with the most left wing administration in the country’s history, threatening to abstain or separate, making that victory, so easily within our grasp in 2017 impossible because they want it in 2013. And they are that because they have been to such a large extent misinformed, lied to by the greedy and corrupt charlatans of HA, SCF, FW and the rest. (I don’t mean this as an aspersion on the knowledge or intelligence of theses people, who are in most case dramatically more knowledgeable, intelligent and productive than the overwhelming mass of democratic voters, but are people who are not day in day out obsessed with politics and are dependent, to some extent on the “information” they get from the above mentioned charlatans, who are exploiting the justified anger of this group for their own purposes).

    Alphonse D’Amato is by far the most conservative person I have been represented by in the Senate, but there have alway been and are people there who have and continue to represent my values. Ted Cruz, who, again, I supported in the primaries and during his tenure in the Senate (up until about August) not only with enthusiasm but with glee, is most emphatically not among their number and is in fact, in my view, now doing more damage to my country than Harry Reid or Chuck Schumer could possibly fantasize about.

    Lastly, while I can write the relative lack of information and understanding of some in Jacksonian America and by the exploitation of that by almost purely Washington forces like Jim DeMint’s Heritage I find it most excruciating to find my views on the timing and tactics so fundamentally different from people like you, OC, whose knowledge, sophistication and understanding in these matters I admire and think dramatically superior to my own, and yet I find, at least in part, terribly mistaken in this case.

    *I’m marrying a young lady who happens to be a batshit crazy left wing loon, but one whose discernment and taste in men, I’m very please to say, is quite as atrocious as it is in matters of domestic policy and politics (she’s much better, quite good actually on foreign affairs), an aspect of her character that I find to be a most welcome feature rather than a bug, as she is quite shockingly beautiful, brilliant and charming.

  3. I hadn’t intended to compliment JED on her trenchant analysis of the GOP swamp, but after reading Cavalier’s fanciful interpretation of events, I’d like to add this simple thought: I wish Dick Cheney had read her column before his appearance on Rush’s show yesterday. Cheney was so worked up by Cruz’s “sauciness” that he skipped answering Rush’s question about Cheney’s heart pump and used his time to chide Cruz, Lee, the Tea Party, et al. for mounting a feckless campaign. We should all be so ineffectual.

    I think Codevilla’s 2010 essay, “America’s Ruling Class,” is a good complement to this column. His division of the nation into Ruling and Country classes accurately describes the fight we’re in now, the one on the Republican side of the House. I found it disheartening that Cheney admits the shortcomings of the GOP Establishment but insists on tactical rather than strategic victories. Boehner and McConnell are only too happy to have their rudderless cohort led up and down the field by the Democrats. The GOP are pleased with themselves gaining (virtual) yardage but never notice they’re not scoring. Hell, who needs scores so long as we have perks!

    I imagine Cavalier may be too invested in his views to give Codevilla serious consideration, but if he decides to read the essay, he might see Congress’s behavior in a truer light than his own hopeful one.

    Link to Codevilla : http://tinyurl.com/24tjruj

    P.S. Cavalier, mazel tov on your engagement!


    (Apropos of nothing, the reference to the Whig Party in the column reminded me of an anecdote attributed to Henry Clay and John Randolph, bitter enemies:

    It is alleged that once, meeting on a narrow sidewalk, Clay proudly said: “I, Sir, do not step aside for a scoundrel,” wherewith Randolph, stepping into the muddy Washington street, replied: “On the other hand, I always do.”

    Leon Harris, “The Fine Art of Political Wit”, p. 62-63)

  4. Well JE, you certainly hit a nerve there!
    For what it’s worth (great song by the way), Republicans seem to talk and argue among themselves about policies, ideas, etc.
    Democrats seem to a collectivist lot. Talking points are “issued” and followed to the letter.
    Republicans seem to be more human on the whole, Democrats more robotic.
    Obamacare is and will be a soothing balm for the Republican Party. Millions of people will lose their healthcare coverage, the majority of which probably voted for Obama. The divorce will be angry and painful. You see, the Obama voters love The President, he promised a new life together, he would take care of them and support them. Oh well, it was fun, see you later.
    More people are losing their health care coverage than are signing up. The worst part hasn’t happened yet. The prices and the huge deductibles are coming. If the young and healthly don’t sign up, the law will be repealed.
    The irony of ACA delay ( it will be at a white hot point during fall 2014) is multi-faceted and tasty.
    Possibly the important move, by the administration, to implement uni-sex hats for the marines will prove to be Obamas signature policy accomplishment.
    Probably not.

    1. The Democrat Establishment herds goats, sheep, and cattle. The Republican Establishment herds cats.


  5. It’s December 1776…

    We have been surrounded and drubbed, only to escape into the mists of the East River, only to be driven once again across Manhattan and forced to escape in the night across the Hudson into the woods of New Jersey…. We retreated south toward the capital of Philadelphia… limping, bleeding, and dwindling all through the late Summer and early Fall. Now after having crossed the Delaware into Pennsylvania we look across a rapidly freezing river into a state that had completely succumbed to British occupation. George Washington wrote to his brother that he feared the effort was almost up. Finished, failed.

    1776 had been a political triumph completely derailed by one military disaster after another. What’s more the politics of July, had given way to the political infighting, wrangling, cronyism, and neglect of September. There were few supplies. There was no realistic comprehension of what was needed to keep an army in the field, and there was no will for the Congress to do much about any of it. Congress looked to the states for voluntary assistance. The states looked out for themselves with little regard to the joint national effort, and the British troops continued to strangle the nascent United States.

    Washington needed a victory in the field. He needed to break the choke hold on the mid Atlantic, to maintain his lines of communication and supply between still unoccupied New England, and the remainder of the country.

    He had a problem, though. He was pretty much surrounded. He was on the opposite bank of a rapidly freezing river, in what was shaping up to be a brutally cold Winter. His men had too little ammunition, poor clothing, and a serious lack of shoes. He had decent intelligence, but he also had enemy spies everywhere. There were as many Tories and Patriots occupying the farms and towns of Western New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

    He made some assumptions. He put his faith in a few critical people, with John Glover’s Marblehead Fishermen standing out to do the impossible again, only this time, his littoral naval feat would be an offensive move.

    The rest is bloody foot prints in the snow.

    The lesson is that the defeat of the Hessians at Trenton and then again at Princeton in January 1777 wasn’t because of the good luck that Johann Rall considered Washington a rube, and the US Army as a joke that he needn’t worry about reading his intelligence provided from a Tory farmer that warned him of Washington’s army’s approach. It wasn’t because the British marching south from Northern Jersey to finally trap and crush Washington after he would obviously lager in Trenton to savor his surprise victory.

    They never counted on Washington doubling back and attacking their backing force at Princeton after a fast march across a frozen New Jersey countryside.

    They never counted on George Washington, and his ragtag pitiful often beaten Continental Army turning around to go on the offensive and bite them hard.

    The battle for New Jersey was not over, but by February it became prime recruiting territory for the Army, and more importantly it kept us in the war. The history of the United States did not end in 1777,.

    This is THE TIME. It’s the time to fight. It’s the time to stop the retreating and turn on our enemies to take a serious chunk out of them. It is time because constant retreat, and deferral of battle loses faith both in the supporters of the cause and the soldiers doing the fighting. Dispirited troops do not win in the best of conditions. They merely look for the first opportunity to surrender.

    It’s time to stand and fight. We have retreated too much, too far, and are contemplating giving up and succumbing to live on the edges of the morass.

    “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.”

    Full text at: http://www.ushistory.org/paine/crisis/c-01.htm

    We must fight now, or we will be overwhelmed. It is that simple.


  6. I fear that the Republicans may agree with the Democrats, desperate to put off more bad news, to delay Obamacare implementation. That would be a mistake because it would (1) save the Democrats from their own failures, and (2) imply that the ACA is a good idea, but just needs more time — and more money.

    The President will delay by executive fiat. That, and his other ultra vires actions need to be challenged, not conceded.

    1. Very true.

      The tactical switch that needs to happen is that the Republicans offer up a comprehensive plan of free market oriented options to replace the mess, thus allowing the insurance industry to run their own data operations, decouple the entire mess from the government other than the regulatory provisions for interstate commerce and contract law that should normally exist, and then present a plan that assists the small percentage of people who cannot get coverage on the open market.

      And pound the drums like a marching band drumline…

      Eventually the technical gliches will get worked out but all of the IA, privacy, government control and operations problems will not. The last thing that will not go away is that what will be provided will be very expensive, high out of pocket cost, low quality substandard health insurance. That will lead to the common man receiving equally substandard medical care…

      And the wealthy will just go to the big Caribbean Health Resorts funded by Concierge Medical plans purchased and administered overseas.

      It’s nuts… but as Victor Davis Hanson wrote the other day, we are living in an age of chaos. The Democrat Party is the Evil Party… the Party of Utilitarianism, Socialism, Cronyism and above all Total Chaos.


      1. Exactly. But do you think Boehner and company would allow the Congress to pass something that could be offered as a reasonable alternative to this intrusive, wasteful, expensive, tyrannical scheme? And the Republicans don’t know how to play drums. Their aptitude seems limited to misusing certain non-musical organs.

        Meanwhile, average people, making more than about 36K per year don’t get subsidized, but Congress and its staff get subsidized while noisily slurping down 6 figures from the public trough. And the sheep think that’s just fine, because The Country’s In the Very Best of Hands, and these people need to be amply compensated. Except Cruz and Lee, of course.

    2. New Democratic talking point: the President has delayed the ACA bill for
      The Right Reason. It is a 400 million dollar piece of crap.
      The Republicans, on the other hand, wanted to delay the ACA bill for a selfish, partisan reason. It is a 400 million dollar piece of crap.
      Many of the Navigators are Acorn retreads. No training and no background checks. They will gladly take your social security number, credit card info (excuse me sir, could you repeat the 3 digit security code on the back please).

  7. The tyranny that has befallen the American People, aptly described in comments above, originates not only from the political dysfunction of the State, which you all rightly point out. But also, from the dysfunctional financial workings of the oligarchic domestic and foreign financial vested interests, epitomized by the unregulated operations of the global financial sector, of which, unfortunately, our political system is totally beholden to.

    The disease is rooted much deeper.than the environs of DC. We will have to look a little further (and deeper) if we wish to truly break the chains…

    1. The people on the govt dole now exceeds the number of people with full time jobs. You don’t have to look any further.
      The Dole elected the president, so to speak.
      The pacified, permanent underclass will always be with us. All of us in the minority need to work harder and pay more taxes. It is quite racist to expect everyone to make an effort. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

  8. Ok, so Rick Santorum just used my Napoleonic invasion of Russia to criticize, ever so cautiously, the Cruzian tactics (on the Bill Bennet show). Fairly obvious, it seems to me. I mean boy, that Kutozov really wanted to let to hand things over to Nap.

    Don’t mind me though. You kids just keep Cruzing.

    1. And Rick is also wrong – as he also confuses our obligation to our fellow man in scripture to the jaws of leviathon aka the State.

      Rick is a perfect example of dem light – with a very strong social conservatism. I admire his morals – but his govt preferences work against his stated morality, hence his complete uselessness as a policy mover or a vote getter.

      Cruz is rash and bombastic. Despite comments to the contrary – he won’t be a credible presidential candidate. He is the old testament prophet calling for Israel to repent. I think we know how it went for most of them. However, they are in fact proven right. So you don’t like Cruz – tell me how he is wrong and how your plan answers his warnings. So far, I don’t see anything.

      Arguments for a different tact at least need to offer what that might be. So far strangely silent. I respect we have only one house of congress and a bumbling fool of a president in the WH. But the lack of planning, and while we don’t know exactly what is said in their meetings I think we can guarentee they had no visible signs of any planning going on, leaves the more establishment GOP position somewhat compromised.

      Boehner and McConnell must lead, not just be happy to be in Washington trying to matter around the margins.

      1. I have mixed views on Santorum but sight his comment only because I’d laid out that particular “Napoleon Invades Russia” analogy in a comment on a previous post wherein I also identified alternative approaches. Specifically I endorsed the much discussed strategy of asking for a delay in the mandate/tax in combination with the Vitter amendment vitiating the extra-legal subsidies for Congress. I conceded that even the mandate strategy was unlikely to succeed. Even today, with the giant Cluster –ck of Obamacare FAIL exploding all around them the White House is now resisting the calls of Red State Dems. They are allowing some delays of “something” but in the end something more substantial and even approaching a full delay of 6 months to a year might occur.

        Pushing this up to the CR deadline and then stepping away, showing the Ds stubbornness and the Rs foresight would have created a much more favorable political climate for future elections. As it is the Rs are down in the polls significantly even as the Ocare disaster unfolds in a most spectacular fashion. I am hoping that over time Cruz and Cos. political folly will yield to the failure of Ocare and generate R majorities, but I think that the “Defund” dreck, with no minimally plausible strategy to win or exit needlessly compromised the prospect of this outcome.

        More specifically, however, and far, far, far worse than the actual defund blunder is the constant attack on Rs who disagreed with the tactic and the assertion by Cruz, Heritage, and unfortunately TOC, TMF and other people whose views I respect enormously, as people who don’t really oppose Ocare and are (cringe) merely trying to improve it. There may be a few Republicans who might have been willing to go along, especially after the election last year, but as the Ocare disaster crescendoed right up until the 1/10 launch where it exploded into something worse than even some of its most sever critics expected it has become blatantly obvious that intense opposition to Ocare became pretty much the only policy and political option for virtually all Republicans and many Red State Dems … at least until their next election. By focusing electing more conservative Rs (highly desirable in some cases, to be sure) and almost completely ignoring Red State Dems (who’ll fall right in line after their reelection) these groups are undermining very dramatically not only the hope for complete repeal of Ocare but of the enactment of many other policies that would re-limit and re-constitutionalize the government. The absurd notion that the principal or even a principal problem is the inefficient commitment of even the current Senate caucus rather then the excess of Democrats seems absurd and destructive.

        As I say above, my dislike for Cruz and his D.C. based support groups is a very recent development. I supported him adamantly in the Texas Senate primary and enthusiastically in his first 6+ months in office. Up until, literally the last 7 or 8 weeks my maine problem has been with the complacency and insufficient conservatism of at least some member of the Republican party. I think the Jacksonian element of the party has and should in the future contribute enormously to creating a Republican party that is not only more conservative, but also a majority party with enough power to actually enact conservative policies. By deceiving and poisoning this crucial element of the coalition and by turning its energy it seems almost exclusively on targeting those members of the Republican party they view as insufficiently conservative (often very unjustly) rather than toward building that majority, I think he has done the Conservative cause great harm.

  9. Thanks again to all for the many energetic and thought-provoking comments. There will be more to come — of course. This issue IS the political future of the United States. It’s the only thing that is; everything else is just a “past” for the United States of America.

    Following up on JEM’s points: I don’t know that Ted Cruz is presidential material. We’ll see. Quite frankly, we’re not anywhere near Kansas anymore, and I’m not counting anyone out. (If we’re going to really get down with the biblical metaphors, maybe we can call Cruz John the Baptist — the voice crying in the wilderness.) But JEM poses one pertinent query here:

    “(Cruz) is the old testament prophet calling for Israel to repent. I think we know how it went for most of them. However, they are in fact proven right. So you don’t like Cruz – tell me how he is wrong and how your plan answers his warnings. So far, I don’t see anything.”

    Excellent question. Here’s mine: How has Cruz hurt anyone or anything with his Senate stand at the end of September? How has the “Tea Party” hurt anything? The only thing I can see from those who vociferously denounce them is that the denouncers just really, really don’t like Cruz or the Tea Party. But what would actually be different if there had been no Cruz’s Stand?

    Was there not going to be a government shutdown otherwise? It was 30 September and Boehner was still saying there was no compromise. As was Reid. It’s not like Cruz had the power to prevent a compromise that hadn’t even been formulated. The same is true of the 17 October debt-ceiling deadline. The exact same players had the responsibility and the only power to actually DO something. What outcome would have been different, in default of Cruz’s Stand?

    This is where the argument of the anti-Cruz/Tea Party folks keeps collapsing, from my perspective. It is not stupid or irresponsible to recognize that if we keep doing the same old things, we’ll keep getting the same old results. The GOP leadership isn’t Charlie Brown in the Lucy-with-the-football scenario; it’s the Republican VOTER who’s Charlie Brown, and the “establishment” leadership that’s Lucy.

    1. Nice use of the Charlie Brown gag. And quite accurate as I think about it.

      The venom towards Cruz probably stems from his frustration with the more tame GOPers. At this point the name calling is going fast and furious, I am not sure I even know who started it.

      I feel like the establishment GOP – and forgive me for noting some NR folks (Lowry and Ponnuru) as establishment – feels like they have all the answers when they clearly don’t. Cruz is being villified because he is telling some basic truths that cannot be allowed to stand by the DC crowd. Remember the joke – the GOP just wants to spend a little less of your cash than the dems. That is where too many in the GOP remain. His strident tone actually is helpful in this looming healthcare.gov crisis – just wait until the exchanges work and more people find out how much it will all cost. Who said stop this madness? Not the GOP leadership, even though I am sure they don’t like the law anymore than I do. Cruz did.

      He is also helpful in keeping the coalition together – it gives the more stridently conservative a reason to stay engaged with the GOP – because without them the GOP stands zero chance to gain anymore power in DC. Cruz also probably is clearing a path for someone who would have been seen as impossible a few years ago, like a Rand Paul. If you don’t think the Whigs example can happen again, I am sure the Whigs didn’t either – and in the time of the internet, it won’t take long to occur. Cruz should be a warning bell.

      The progressive left is no longer interested in the America conservatives see. It would be high time for the GOP to recognize that this isn’t just a policy argument. It is becoming a very different vision for the country. The jokes about a banana republic are just that – jokes. But there is a small amount of truth based upon Obama’s behavior that makes you kind of wonder.

  10. No national or imperial entity, that loses control of its state finances and immigration policy, can ever hope to control its own destiny. John the Bap.. er Ted Cruz, tried to warn us. Remember John the Baptist ‘s reward? Getting his head lopped off.

    And as for his successors? We all know what was done to Jesus…

    So. Hopefully the GOP anointed one for 2016 will be able to bring about the revolution, and avoid falling into the hands of the scribes and pharisees.

    We don’t have the luxury of waiting for a St. Paul to come around a hundred years later to spread the word..

  11. Yeah, jgets, I was of two minds about introducing the John the Baptist metaphor, as I didn’t want to seem to imply messianic qualities in whomever Cruz might prepare the way for. No messiahs on this horizon. Just political leaders, flawed and gnarly like the rest of us.

    JEM — good points.

    I keep being chary of addressing this whole issue at great length, or too often, because I do think that in the end, the wings of the GOP are mostly going to pull for the same shore and vote for the same people.

    That said, the GOP divide is a symptom of a bigger philosophical earthquake going on, for the whole nation, and I really, really don’t want to see it all come down to personalities, or even “electoral strategies for 2014.” That’s not what it’s actually about.

    I tend to agree that Cruz has done the Republican brand a very important service, establishing that there were Republicans who were so against Obamacare and all it represents that they went out of their way to oppose it. What’s important about what he did is that HIS message of being obnoxiously, passionately, embarrassingly opposed to Obamacare got out loud and clear past the MSM gatekeepers.

    Anyone who thinks “the people” remember that no Republican voted for Obamacare in 2010, or that that will drive independents and Democrats to the GOP in 2014, doesn’t seem to have learned much from history. The media won’t let the proposition be about that. They aren’t going to assist the GOP in making that case to the voters next year.

    At most, they will characterize Republican leaders as cynical and manipulative: hoping Obamacare would inflict pain on people, so that people would blame Obama and Democrats, and vote for Republicans and therefore against grannies, struggling single moms, and adorable bunny rabbits, whom Republicans like to run over with their SUVs.

    Cruz vaulted over the media spin-filter and left the impression he intended to with even low-information folks: filibustering against Obamacare. (He’s even, in a sense, providing “top cover” for Boehner on the government shutdown, since Boehner would otherwise have to shoulder all the blame for it, and would have no “Tea Party extremists” to triangulate against.)

    Consider, meanwhile, the position into which the establishment Republicans have triangulated themselves: (a) that it’s “extremist” to not accept caving quietly to the Democrats on key GOP issues like spending and the debt ceiling; and (b) that caving quietly would resonate more with the voters in 2014 than staging some kind of fight. even if, on the current battlefield, it’s a losing one.

    “Vote for Smith! Thank God he just wanted to keep government open at any cost!” In which election of the last 100 years has that been a drawing card for Republican voters?

    I do appreciate JEM’s point that Cruz is keeping a lot of folks engaged with the GOP who would otherwise have simply given up on it. If I had my druthers, I’d see the limited-government wing regain ascendancy in the GOP rather than spin off a new political party. I’m not sure I see a pitched battle in which that could be established before the party convention in 2016.

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