Josh Marshall asks, Just Where Is The Center of Gravity Here? It follows up on this idea that Byron York has floated (I discussed it on Monday) that there really aren’t that many crazy Republicans in the House and most of them want to vote for a clean continuing resolution. Marshall concludes, “The fabled GOP moderates never appear.”
Jonathan Bernstein calls these supposed moderates the Fraidy Cat Conference. He says that sure, they are more than willing to talk to Byron York privately and say, “This is crazy!” But in public, they are a bunch of wimps who will always follow the crazies. I see it differently. Yes, Bernstein is right: these people are afraid. But they might grow backbones if they really disagreed with Ted Cruz and his people. But they don’t. The supposed moderate Republicans believe in exactly the same policies as the most extreme “drown the government in a bath tub” types.
I just wrote about how the Republican elite have left their base behind. Part of what’s going on is that even a high percentage of the elites have been taken away by their rhetoric. Mario Cuomo (a great man, unlike his son) once said, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” The House Republicans are so in love with their campaign poetry that they are trying to govern with it. Most of them know when it comes to any particular bill (“Should we crash the economy or eliminate the EPA?!”) that they need to do the old boring prose thing (not crash the economy and keep the EPA). But when a large part of their caucus really seems to believe that they can have all that they’ve campaigned on, it is hard to resist.
This is why Christians don’t tend to hang out with atheists. It is hard to believe that if you are nice and believe in Jesus that after you die you will go to a place where you will be unimaginably happy for the rest of eternity. But if everyone you know believes it, it is a lot easier. This is why all of those people in the Heaven’s Gate cult killed themselves. I’m sure most of them had real doubts. But no one admitted it. And how could they all be wrong?
The main thing here is that all the House Republicans believe all the radical talk. It is absolutely not true that all Democrats are secretly socialists. In fact, most Democrats aren’t even especially liberal. (We can thank the Republican Party’s extreme ideology for that!) But these Republicans really are Ayn Rand zealots at their core. Most of them care about their jobs enough to know better. But they figure maybe the public zealots know something that they don’t. Maybe if the Republicans keep the government closed for 4 months, Obama really will sign the Ryan Budget. Who are they to stop this historic moment that may end in them getting just what they themselves most desire?
Am I saying that the House Republicans are like a cult. That’s not my main point. I think most people behave in this way; we are social animals, after all. But there are definitely cult aspects to how the House Republicans are acting.