Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Banana Republicans

Chait is once again demonstrating why he's one of the more astute commentators on the current state of American governance.

What he has done repeatedly since 2011 is to simply catalog what the Republicans are saying and take them at their word.  So when the GOP says they are going to force concessions by shutting down the government and refusing to raise the debt ceiling - and they say this for months ahead of time - it's reasonable to assume that this is not a "lack of bipartisan compromise" that High Broderism calls for, but is instead a predictable outcome from a negotiating strategy that could be called hostage taking, but is really closer to extortion.

If this wasn't imperiling the economy and causing real hardships across the land - including the 800,000 people who were furloughed this morning - it would be a fascinating case study in motivations.

Right now, it is widely acknowledged by everyone but the hard right, that the GOP maintains control of the House because of safe districts.  We know objectively that Democrats won over a million more votes in House races than did Republicans.  We know that Republicans in 2010 made winning state houses a main goal for this purpose.

We also know that the public will overwhelmingly blame the party that professes to hate government for shutting down that government. We are already seeing that number in polls.

But what is the incentive for Boehner to allow a clean CR to come to the floor?  It would likely pass, ending this farce.

But why should Boehner allow that to happen?  What does he get for it?  A large part of his caucus will despise him for it, and they already hate him.  It would require an act of real statesmanship from a man who has demonstrated no discernible aptitude for it.

Ideally, this governing-by-extortion will only last a few days, but I am having trouble seeing how the incentives line up to end this.  Not because the votes aren't there, but because the political will and rewards are absent.

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