Posted by Curt on 16 October, 2013 at 2:23 pm. 2 comments already!


Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry:

Congress is about to end the shutdown, which has universally been deemed a resounding failure for the GOP. I wrote in favor of the Shutdown. Was I wrong to?

Time for me to practice #PunditAccountability.

But before I straightforwardly answer the question like a good person would, first let me point out what I think are some important things about the Shutdown:

  • First of all, the electoral consequences of the Shutdown will probably be limited. People think this will cause the GOP to get whacked in the Midterms and lose its shot at retaking the Senate. But voters aren’t really paying attention, and certainly not yet forming the opinions that will determine their vote. Even though the GOP suffered the most, voters are not overwhelmingly blaming the GOP. The GOP still has strong chances for 2014.
  • The Shutdown was always about internal GOP dynamics. Supporters of the Shutdown like myself understood that defunding Obamacare was always almost certainly impossible. But the goal was to stoke the enthusiasm of the conservative base and show to the GOP Establishment (and the world) that the Tea Party is really determined to get what it wants. In this it certainly succeeded. It was also about testing the mettle of GOP legislators who proclaim their conservatism but might not be willing to take a hit for it. Primary season will likely be a red dawn, and this is good.
  • The Shutdown showed that the Tea Party really has a libertarian/populist spine. This is stuff we’d all like to drink and forget about, but remember the adventure of the medical device tax. As GOP legislators were looking for one, any “ask” that would be small enough to maybe be consented to by the Obama Administration while remaining face-saving for the GOP, they glommed onto this one. Of course, it was no coincidence that the medical device tax was heavily opposed by K Street (and, to be fair, also by a number of Democratic legislators and was genuinely bad policy). This caused despair among the ranks of people like me. What had started as a libertarian/populist crusade was ending as a fight for crony capitalism. The always predictable pattern was emerging, of a GOP often armed with good intentions but, when in doubt, defaulting to obeying K Street. But then something no one could have predicted happened: the House GOP rejected that proposal. Incredibly, the members told reporters like National Review’s Robert Costa that their constituents would not accept “crony capitalism,” using precisely the language that libertarian populist reformers like Tim Carney have been pushing (heretofore with only mixed result). After rejecting the medical device tax repeal, the House GOP rallied around the populist proposal to put members of Congress on the Obamacare exchanges with no subsidies. I dare say that, along with Mike Lee’s embrace of a bigger child tax credit, this was the most encouraging event in US politics for a very long time. The House GOP went through the political crucible and emerged with a libertarian/populist spine. Much work lies ahead, of course, but it’s a very real indication that the reform conservative message is taking hold in the GOP base.

In short, all in all, the Shutdown makes me hopeful for the future of the Tea Party, the Republican Party and America. It showed that the Tea Party has produced a significant number of elected officials with integrity and willing to go through political fire to enact their goals, and can push the GOP in the right direction.

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