Sunday, October 17, 2010


BooMan considers the question of what will happen when lots of teabag candidates get elected and reach D.C.:

When these folks get into office, they are going to knock heads with the Republicans who don't want to eliminate the departments under their jurisdiction, and who don't want to commit political suicide, and who don't want to repeat the fiasco of the 1995 Government Shutdown. And then some time will go by, and these Tea Partiers will realize that they won't get reelected if they privatize Social Security or they continue to oppose abortion in all cases. So, the problem isn't really about keeping a coalition together. The problem is that you can't run an institution (the federal government) that you don't believe should do anything when that is a politically untenable position. They are going to think 'the people sent us here to trash the place," but they'll be wrong. The people just got apathetic and didn't take care to really think about the consequences of putting nutjobs in Congress.

I don't think the 'baggers are really going to knock heads with the (marginally) less crazy establishment Republicans. I think what's going to happen is that they're going to put their notions of eliminating large numbers of government agencies aside -- temporarily, they'll think -- because the Republicans running the show will give them all sorts of fun Obama-bashing stuff to do: repealing (or at least defunding) the health-care law, defunding Obama's "czars," and, of course, lots and lots of investigations and witch hunts.

All that ought to keep them distracted. Do you really think teabagger candidates care all that much about all the supposed constitutional originalism they're endlessly yammering about? What I mean is, do you think they'd insist on pursuing those goals when veteran Republicans in Congress are offering the opportunity instead to cause Barack Obama and the Democrats significant amounts of pain? I think the 'baggers have persuaded themselves that they're high-minded, but, really, they're just pissed off, and dealing out pain will be more than satisfactory to them.

But will the rest of the public become restless? Well, maybe. But the GOP will also be pursuing tax cuts, spending freezes, and a balanced-budget amendment (all of which will also distract the 'baggers), and these proposals will be too extreme for even the Obama White House, which will fight and veto them. So the GOP and 'baggers will seem to be doing something (even though their agenda will be the worst possible one for a recessionary period), and Obama will become a vetoing one-man Party of No, and the mainstream Republicans and 'baggers will be kept very busy dramatically demanding austerity and subpoenaing documents.

So don't expect a crack-up -- not as long as the old-schoolers and the newbies can pursue their shared hatred of Obama, Democrats, and liberalism.

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