Thursday, February 20, 2014

The current GOP battle is between those who are telling the lie and those who believe it

Nothing that has happened over the last few years illustrates the vacuity of the current Republican Party better than the recent vote on raising the debt ceiling. As you might know, it passed the House primarily with Democratic votes and then went to the Senate. Minority Leader McConnell's plan was to allow it to pass there with only Democratic votes - giving Republicans the cover of claiming that they did not support it. But Sen. Cruz threw a monkey wrench in those plans by insisting on a super majority of 60 votes for passage. That forced McConnell and a few others to actually vote FOR raising the debt ceiling in order to avoid a global economic crisis.

Take a listen to how Sen. Cruz talks about all this to CNN's Dana Bash.
Republican leadership said we want this to pass, but if every senator affirmatively consents to doing it on 51 votes, then we can all cast a vote 'no' and we can go home to our constituents and say we opposed it. And listen, that sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the constituents is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating.
I was reminded of how David Roberts talked about the post-truth politics of the Republican Party.
In short, Republicans have mastered post-truth politics. They've realized that their rhetoric doesn't have to bear any connection to their policy agenda. They can go through different slogans, different rationales, different fights, depending on the political landscape of the moment. They need not feel bound by previous slogans, rationales, or fights. They've realized that policy is policy and politics is politics and they can push for the former while waging the latter battle on its own terms. The two have become entirely unmoored.
In other words, Republican politics is based on a policy lie. In this case, they have always known that they have to raise the debt ceiling. But they've lied about it to their constituents for so long that many have come to actually believe what they've said. Sen. Cruz has now become the standard bearer of those that bought the lie.

In the end, this means that the current battle raging in the Republican Party is between those who are telling the lie and those that believe the lie. There is no way for that one to end well because the only way out of that mess is to finally face the truth. At times we see glimmers that a few Republicans are recognizing that reality. Those create the moments President Obama captures with his efforts to build a common sense caucus. But the overall fate of the Republican Party rests on whether or not their leadership is willing to give up the lie. Until they do, Sen. Cruz and the teapublicans will be there to exploit it.

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