Why we may win big in 2014
Daily Kos has a sober assessment of our chances next year, which deserves to be read in any case. It gives some reasons for optimism -- the Republicans have completely failed to reach out to minorities, Obama is likely to be much more engaged this time than in 2010, etc. But it basically assumes that the Republican party will continue to function as a coherent party, as it always has in the past. I really wonder whether it can.
It's clear now that the shutdown / debt ceiling débâcle has finally awakened the party establishment and its big-business backers to how dangerous the teabaggers are -- and that they're preparing to take real action to curb the power of the crazies. But those crazies, based on what I'm seeing all over the right-wing internet, are in mad-as-hell-not-gonna-take-it mode -- they're convinced they were winning this fight and had the American people behind them (all the polls showing the opposite are "skewed", of course). The moves by McConnell and other establishment Republicans to bow to inevitable defeat are seen as a new Dolchstoß, an epic betrayal, a sign that the leadership and the moderates in Congress need to be swept away by that favorite teabagger weapon, the primary challenge. I wasn't exaggerating when I called the looming internal conflict a civil war.
If the split can't be patched up, there are basically two ways it can play out. One is that the teabaggers or a large chunk thereof abandon the party -- they leave and form a third party, or they waste their votes on third candidates, or they refuse to vote. This would deprive the party of a crucial part of its voting base. No doubt the establishment would reach out to the rank-and-file crazies even while trying to curb the power of crazies in Congress -- by affirming support for their less-deranged goals, for example -- but I doubt it would work. These people are out for blood.
The other possibility is that the teabaggers will succeed -- that the wave of primary challenges they're threatening to unleash will sweep away many moderates and give us a whole new crop of Mourdocks and Angles and O'Donnells to run against. Aside from the inherent weakness of such candidates, this outcome would further undermine Wall Street's support for the party.
Most likely some combination of the two will happen. In the past, divided Republicans have pulled back from the brink of such self-destructive behavior because they, too, could see the danger to conservatism as a whole. This time, however, they believe they have an ace that guarantees success next November no matter what they do -- they believe the ACA will be such a disaster that it will drive voters back into their arms. This conviction is emboldening them to take risks they would otherwise not take. In fact, the evidence so far suggests that the ACA will have just the opposite effect, despite the start-up glitches.
As always, we dare not be complacent or careless. The shutdown / debt ceiling battle has a lesson for us too -- the Republicans are even more dangerous to the country than we thought. We must fight every election as if we could lose, no matter how confident we feel. But in truth, 2014 might just be the year when the insanity the rightists have been nurturing finally blows up in their faces.