TPM has a story up about how the Tea Party looks at what happened yesterday.
For a certain block of House conservatives, the ones who drove Speaker John Boehner toward a government shutdown and near-default against his will, the lesson of the last few weeks isn’t that they overreached. Not that they made unachievable demands, put their leadership in an impossible position, damaged their party’s position with the public and left a deep uncertainty about whether the GOP conference can recover and legislate.
No, what they’re taking away from the 2013 crisis is: They didn’t go far enough.
Like we couldn’t have seen that one coming. It is, after all, the same thing they said after losing the last two Presidential elections. It wasn’t their policies; it was that they weren’t conservative enough.
But that isn’t really the Tea Party’s rebel yell. Their rebel yell is: “We’re gonna primary you!”
This threat of primarying a politician who goes against the Tea Party’s issues is serious. Why? Because primarying candidates is all the Tea Party knows how to do. And make no mistake, they are really good at it. It’s the equivalent of burning the house down, and has absolutely nothing to do with governing – something they have no idea how to do.
And all this talk about how the Tea Party, and Cruz, etc., have peaked, have learned their lesson, is nonsense. Take a look at the House vote from yesterday: The House voted 285-144, with the entirety of the opposition coming from Republicans. So much for the mantra that it was only a small, radical group of Republicans holding the government and debt ceiling hostage. I don’t doubt that some of the 144 wanted to end the government shut down and avoid default… they didn’t want it enough to cast their vote for it. That would have been political suicide.
And while I don’t doubt that many of those 144 Republicans votes for default and keeping the government closed were cast in fear of a primary, let’s stop pretending that “most” Republicans are appalled by the Ted Cruz coup.
They may hate Cruz personally (who doesn’t?), but they agree with him 100%. And the reason they hate him is because he says clearly what 99% of them believe. Establishment Republicans don’t want him to change his message – they merely want him to change his tactics and speak in code, because he makes them look bad by comparison.
So, this idea that Republicans have “learned their lesson” and won’t employ these tactics again is nonsense. They will keep this up as long as the majority of their base demands it from them.
Know why? Because that 24% of the population that still approves of the GOP is their Tea Party base. Good luck casting them aside and winning a primary. They’re all the Republicans have left, and the Tea Party has no interest in “rebranding” or expanding the party. It’s a purity contest with them, and that means they’ll keep ousting people until the time comes to crown the one, true Tea Party King.