The representative from California’s Central Valley district, Devin Nunes, has joined the ranks of Republicans calling their own party either crazy or stupid. In this case Mr. Nunes chose to elicit both adjectives for his colleagues when he described them, as reported in the LA Times, as “lemmings with suicide vests.” We can only hope that these lemmings fall off the edge of the cliff before their bombs go off and kill us all in the process. Nunes has now joined the growing list of Republicans trying to distance themselves from the government shutdown debacle orchestrated by the GOP.
With all of the signs not insulated from reality starting to spell doom and disaster for the Right, it is only natural that some of the members of the party that are more sensible want to try to save their own skins and avoid the same fate as the Teahadist extremists that are pushing the agenda. The problem with Nunes is that he may be speaking out, and he may not necessarily be wearing that metaphorical suicide vest, but he’s still a lemming. As the LA Times notes in their article, Nunes has continued to tow the party line on all of the votes that have come up. His statement regarding this was, “You try to make your case, and if you lose, you have to go with your team.”
This is why talk of the implosion of the Republican party is premature. Before President Obama was elected, many on the Left felt that after the continually pushed from the Right policy of deregulation had led directly to the economic collapse of not only this country, but virtually the entire world, that we had all seen the indefinite decline of the Republican party and we would go back to the days of the 1960’s where government was dominated by the Democrats who would throw the Right a bone now and then because they were willing to actually compromise and listen to what the other side had to say. However, as we have now come to know through the Teapublican insurgency, this view was not true. This time around, we can all hope for a better outcome, but there are actually five different ways this can run, and not all of them are very pretty.
First, we have what we’ll call the optimal outcome. The Republican party jettisons the Tea Party and anyone affiliated with it, fracturing the party in to two groups divided between the relatively sensible fiscal conservatives who only vote in favor of Social Conservatism because they need to get elected, and the extremists. By dividing the votes among the two groups, Democrats are able to pick up more seats in the House and the Senate and the government becomes able to function again and we all start moving forward.
The second outcome could also be a net positive for the progressive side. In this scenario the Tea Party takes over the Republican party completely, but in the process alienates the majority of people who don’t agree with their extremist agenda. The refugees either switch sides and become the new class of “Blue Dog Democrats,” or form their own new party. Once again the Conservative agenda is fractured, thereby hopefully allowing the Left to pick up more seats and get things back on track.
Option number three is more likely than one and two, but still could be good for the Left. In this scenario, the Republican strategy and current trajectory doesn’t change in any noticeable way. Luckily, the voting public sees how damaging it is and in the 2014 elections the momentum from 2012 is continued and Democrats gain more seats in the House and Senate. Republicans can still obstruct the flow of progress, but their lessened power allows for the government to start moving, albeit slowly, again.
The fourth option is the most likely option. Nothing changes. The Republicans continue to be divided, but because the leadership refuses to do anything about it, everyone on the Right just continues to vote together on all issues, even when it’s not in the best interests of the country and actually harms more people than it helps. However, their massive gains in 2010 and the subsequent gerrymandering that followed has made their hold on power incapable of being broken. They continue to control the House purely because they fixed the system and as such the crippled government continues to limp along in inane circles waiting for help. The only way out of this is to hope that a decade of Republican obstructionism and insanity allows Democrats to gain enough seats by 2020, that when the next Census comes out the Left can redistrict their states in a better way.
The final outcome of all of this may be absurd and considered impossible, but seeing what happened in the 2010 election, it very well might happen. This scenario requires that the Democrats and their supporters lose their vim and vigor and just give up, while the Right keeps firing up more and more voters. Then, in 2014, when we’re all expecting the opposite, the Right wins more seats back and takes over the Senate. Now they have even more power to grind the gears of government to a halt and bring the whole system crashing down if their demands aren’t met.
Obviously three out of five of these scenarios end up as a positive net gain for the Left, which would be great for the country, but people’s actions cannot be predicted with much accuracy. Hopefully the next year signals the death knell at least for the TEApublicans and their absurd and ignorant stubbornness, but you won’t catch me holding my breath.
Watch Congressman Devin Nunes on CNN with Jake Tapper discussing the government shutdown.