AlterNet reports that Democratic pollsters have concluded the rightwing radicals who have seized control of the Republican party won't be rolled back, as many nervous Americans quietly hope, but are about to become even more extreme, more intransigent - politically apocalyptic.
“Understand that the base thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country… and [feel] a little powerless to change course,” the analysis by Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert found after a series of focus groups in three red states this summer. “They think Obama has imposed his agenda, while Republicans in DC let him get away with it.”
Their Democracy Corps report is an illuminating profile of the GOP’s three main factions: the Tea Partiers leading today’s brinkmanship, the evangelicals lining up behind them, and overlooked but still significant moderates. At the front of this stampede are right-wingers who believe they are fighting for political survival in an era where white-run America is vanishing and they’ve lost the culture war.
In this paranoid world, Obamacare is Armageddon, the setting for the final battle between good and evil, and the rallying cry that unites the party’s factions.
“Republicans shut down the government to defund or delay Obamacare,” thereport said. “This goes to the heart of Republican base thinking about the essential political battle. They think they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support. It starts with food stamps and unemployent benefits; expands further if you legitimize the illegals; but insuring the uninsured dramatically grows those dependant on government. They believe this is an electoral strategy—not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican Party may be lost, in their view.”
The pollsters describe the beliefs of three distinct GOP factions whose passions and thinking are critical to understanding what’s happening in the shutdown and what may ensue in its aftermath. For example, should the White House invoke emergency powers to avoid a federal debt default—as some legal scholars and historians have suggested—their analysis portends that the Tea Partiers and Evangelicals, comprising more than half of the party, will ramp up the rhetoric, accuse Obama of tyranny and possibly even pursue impeachment.
But Democracy Corps’ analysis also describes a political party in turmoil. It suggests that the right-wingers’ escalating tactics will further alienate the 25 percent of Republicans who identify as moderates, including fiscally conservative but socially liberal women who surprisingly told the focus groups they would consider voting for Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.
The radicals have their teeth sunk into everything from healthcare to gay rights, immigration, abortion and climate change. To them, every one is a line in the sand that, if crossed, spells the end to the America they think once existed. Better to bring the government crashing down now than to continue losing these core issues bit by bit.
"...comments from Republican moderates suggest there could be a majority to end the federal government shutdown and avoid a federal debt default if Speaker of the House John Boehner allowed votes on bills without defunding Obamacare. But that is not likely to happen, the Democracy Corps analysis suggested, because right now the GOP radicals are in control. If somehow an Obamacare coup is averted, the pollsters say that any federal action on climate change would be the radicals' next target.
That’s because the evangelicals “deeply doubt scientists writ large” and Tea Partiers “are concerned that climate science is another way to force regulations on individuals and businesses.” While the report’s profile of moderates is encouraging, it closes by reminding readers that the radicals rule today.
“We probably need to remind you that evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans dominate the party,” it ends. “This looks like the future battle ahead, driven by the dymanics of the Republican Party.”