I always like to start off with numbers.
Percentage of voters who opted for President Obama in November – 53 percent
Percentage of voters who identify themselves as Tea Party in January – 8 percent.
And yet, we are on the verge of a government shutdown because conservatives in the House are afraid of that 8 percent. Tea Party people are bullying those representatives by threatening them with a challenger in the upcoming primaries if the reps don’t vote how they like on the looming budget/Obamacare issue.
So the country’s economy and credit rating hangs in the balance because of a very slim sliver of the electorate. Hardly seems right. But don’t blame the Tea Party backers, they’ve figured out the primary process and it has worked, at least when it comes to picking candidates — not in the general election, i.e. Aiken, Mourdoch, etc.
The people who are to blame are the moderate voters. They can make a difference but they are often apathetic in the primaries. Why? Because many of them know they’ll vote Blue or Red in the general election regardless of the candidate. It’s that default setting which the Tea Party has preyed upon. Because they’re fired up and are willing to turn out for the primaries, Tea Partyers have the power.
The specter of a shutdown and credit default is, for the most part, theater. Cruz is going full-tilt boogie for the shutdown knowing damn good and well it won’t happen, or if it does it won’t be for long. He knows too that it if it has negative effects, it won’t come back on him. He gets to be the loud ideologue with no repercussions.
Yes, Obamacare is unpopular. Most people don’t want it. But most people, both moderates and zealots, voted for the President in 2012 knowing that he would never repeal his signature achievement. In other words, they want Congress to work together and stop with the non-productive grandstanding more than they want to get rid of government healthcare.
I’d like to think eventually that voters will get sick of the gridlock and push out some of the incumbents who are making it difficult for Washington to do its business. Sadly, that won’t happen. No president’s party has done well in a sixth-year, mid-term election in the past 100 years. No doubt Republicans will hold the House in 2014 and they have a good shot at winning the Senate.
So no change. We’ll get yet another two years of gridlock and inaction thanks to an obnoxious, obstinate minority who has no moral high ground.
To be fair though, it’s not like politicians have ever really cared what the general public thinks, at least not until November.