So why are we stuck in this perpetual cycle of farcical drama? Jonathan Chait has a theory. And I suspect he's onto something.
Since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, a coterie of Republicans has challenged this informal approach. Their belief is that the absence of cooperation should lead not to stalemate but to the president bending to their will. That assumption implies a delegitimization of the presidency that Obama has come to understand, belatedly, that he can’t accept.
The Republican Establishment is trying to coax the crisis-mongers out of their fervor. Today The Wall Street Journaleditorial page assails Republicans who insist on shutting down the government unless President Obama agrees to destroy his own health-care reform, a fantastical demand. “Kamikaze missions rarely turn out well, least of all for the pilots,” theJournal warns.
But it’s not as if the House leadership has a more reasonable proposal on offer. In fact, the position of the House leadership is far more radical. GOP leaders are promising their base that if they give up on the Obamacare shutdown fight, they can have an Obamacare debt-ceiling fight. House leaders are dangling before the baying hordes, reports Politico, “tons of conservative goodies: construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, entitlement reform and principles for tax reform.” You can have all this and more!
And because House Republican "leaders" fear their own 21st Century Know Nothing base, we're stuck in this manufactured crisis for the time being. Because a few Members of Congress care more about their extreme ideology than the well-being of the nation (and they actually have power over their "leaders"), the nation's economy is being held hostage. It makes no sense to all of us living in the real world, but it's nonsensical music to the ears of those living in G-O-TEA Fantasyland.
Even a growing number of Republicans are demanding an end to the perpetual cycle of farcical drama! Are party "leaders" listening?
When the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is comparing far-right lawmakers to Kamikaze pilots, it's safe to say all is not well within the Republican Party. When the staffer of one Texas GOP lawmaker is lecturing another staffer of a Texas GOP lawmaker on "dealing with reality," it even worse.
This is more than just idle curiosity about an intra-party spat. In less than two weeks, the government's lights will go out, and Republicans don't want to get the blame for an unpopular shutdown.
In other words, the unanimity that existed the last time the GOP shut down the government [1995, and to a large extent the 2011 debt debacle] does not exist right now. Worse, there are no real leaders among congressional Republicans that the rest of the party will follow and whom Democratic leaders can negotiate with.
Yet even with this being said, there are likely enough Republicans in the House to reach across the aisle and agree to a bipartisan budget deal with House Democrats. At this point, the nation depends on it. So when will they put country before party?
When can we finally end this perpetual cycle of farcical drama? It's harming the nation. And all of us living in reality want off already.