At The American Prospect, Paul Waldman notes that Republicans increasingly believe they'll pay no price with voters if they shut down the government in response to President Obama's executive action on immigration. Here's recent history as Waldman recalls it:
Approval of the Republican party took a nose dive in the wake of the shutdown, and though it is still viewed negatively by most Americans, that didn't stop Republicans from having a great election day. Because as at least some within the GOP understand, you can create chaos and crisis, and large numbers of voters will conclude not that Republicans are bent on creating chaos and crisis but that "Washington" is broken, and the way to fix it is to elect the people who aren't in the president's party. That in this case that happened to be precisely the people who broke it escaped many voters.That's not quite the whole story, of course. It's too simple to say that after Republicans crash the system, "large numbers of voters will conclude not that Republicans are bent on creating chaos and crisis but that 'Washington' is broken." Voters don't just, on their own initiative, conclude this -- they're told this, over and over and over again, by the self-righteous mandarins of the Beltway press corps. And Democrats never try to identify for the voters precisely who "the people who broke" Washington are -- even Democrats blame "gridlock," or 'Washington," rather than the GOP.
So of course voters fail to assess the blame correctly.
The fact that the electorate skewed so heavily Republican in an election with the lowest turnout since 1942 also helped them escape the consequences of their behavior.Well, it's no surprise that we had low turnout with a Republican skew. Every day, all day, Republicans are told by their favorite media outlets that everything wrong in America is the fault of the Democrats, and thus they arrive at Election Day hell-bent on driving those Democrats out of office. A tiny minority of Democratic voters who are consumers of the left-wing media are regularly reminded who's to blame, but most Democratic voters are moderates who give the lefty media a miss; they're told by the mainstream media that the whole system is an unfixable mess because everyone's at fault. So of course they gave in to despair this year and stayed home.
And all this will probably happen again over the next two years. So Republicans may as well shut down the government again. After all, the vast majority of voters will never hear them blamed for doing so.