Fundamentally at issue in both the new shutdown talk and in the insurgent candidacies of Trump and Carson is a tension that has driven Republican politics since the tea party revolution of 2010.
Establishment Republicans want to win elections, Republican voters want to feel they are being heard.
Recent evidence suggests that, at crucial times and in important ways, the two goals have been mutually exclusive. But they are clashing dramatically on the presidential campaign trail and in Congress this week.
I'd like to feel a little more empathy.
To give many Republican voters what they want on several key issues is a recipe to win House races in safe, localized districts, but to risk losing broader races for the Senate and White House. Indeed, Republicans’ success in the 2014 Senate elections began with rigorously weeding out antiestablishment tea party candidates.
Now, Trump and Carson are giving frustrated rank-and-file Republicans their voice again. And in doing so, they are forcing the Republican Party to come to terms with its own contradictions – an uncomfortable discussion the party has hoped to avoid for years.
The thought of a President Cruz, Trump, Palin, etc. for infinity it seems, prevents empathy, tho.
Recently, the Republican establishment had also sought to tamp down potentially inflammatory talk on abortion. Comments about abortion likely lost Republicans Senate seats in Missouri andIndiana in 2012 and fed Democratic claims of a Republican “war on women.”
But a video from an antiabortion group has stirred the issue again, leading to calls for shutting down the government if Planned Parenthood is not defunded.
The deeper concern is that there is no obvious “solution” to the disconnect between the Republican Party and many of its voters. The party cannot abandon its most passionate, partisan supporters, who can be reliably counted on to go to the polls, even in low-turnout midterm elections. But direction of the country appears to be inexorably away from the worldview of these voters.
Latino voters were not a decisive voting bloc in the 2012 presidential election, an analysis by The New York Times found, but they tipped several key states into Obama’s column. And their influence is growing.
Meanwhile, Millennials, now the largest generation in the country, are significantly left of Republican orthodoxy on immigration, gay rights, business profits, and environmentalism, one Pew Research Center study finds. Another suggests that such differences might be culturally ingrained and persist even as Millennials age.
Does that mean we might get the House back someday? Dare to dream.