One big sign that the Far Right Republicans in Congress are willing to put the country through the nightmare they pulled at the beginning of this month?
The Senate Republicans just pulled a symbolic vote that "repudiated" the actual vote they made a few weeks ago to end the Shutdown and avoid a default.
This particular vote went nowhere. It was an open attempt by the Senate Republicans to position themselves for any primary challenges they'll face next year and/or 2016. They want to be able to say with a straight face in a slew of ads starting right about now that "oh, we were always against a functioning federal government, we just don't want you noticing the vote we passed before this one to keep government functioning!"
Insert headdesking here.
The thing is, the deal that got passed to end the Shutdown was just another temporary reprieve. The agreement will only last until February, perhaps March of 2014. Which is right about the time a good number of primaries for the Congressional midterms can happen. At least a sizable number of challenger campaigns will be in full gear by that point. Meaning there will be even greater incentive for the sitting incumbents to suck up even more to the extremist base voters that are key to every primary.
And the best - the ONLY - way to show off their Far Right credentials is to pull another Shutdown and threaten the government with default. Again.
But there's a problem. While the base voters are key to the primary stage of an election, the moderate and independent voters are key to the general election, the election that really matters. And if the Republicans have either A) voted in a challenger whose credentials are further to the Right than ever before or B) voted for an incumbent who won by swinging further to the Right than ever before, they're suddenly stuck with candidates and platforms that will not appeal to moderate and independents, who will go stampeding off to the other choice (the Democrats in those races).
What's happening in Virginia right now is a decent example. The Democratic candidate McAullife is beating the Republican candidate Cuccinelli by an almost double-digit percentage lead (caveat: polls are not always accurate. But when a slew of them show similar numbered results, there's a trend worth noting). Granted, the numbers are pretty skewed compared of the regular 52-48 close-call race, but the shocking thing are the unfavorable numbers against Republicans:
Among minorities, it's a given the unfavorable numbers are that high: the shocking number are among independents, who are now firmly opposed to the Republican ideology (you used to see the numbers more even, with independents giving either party a meh approval). I've rarely seen independent voters be anywhere close to 60 percent unfavorable against one party.
And try to remember that McAullife, who is more businessman than politician, isn't someone the majority of his own party actually likes: at the start of all this the general response among Virginia Democrats was "Oh God was THIS the best we could do?" And this is a guy whose questionable business practices echo the same miscues as his primary backer Bill Clinton, which is saying something. And STILL McAullife is about to win the governorship by a double-digit percentage lead, mostly because a majority of voters aren't voting for him they are voting against Cuccinelli and the GOP (the down-ticket candidates in Virginia are suffering too).
We'd still need to see the final results for the Virginia election next week, and we'd still have to recognize that Virginia is NOT a common bell-weather indicator for 2014 midterms (mostly because Virginia - a major employment zone for the feds - was hard hit by the GOP-led Shutdown this month, which pissed off Virginia voters to no end). But it's still important to note: Virginia's population is large enough and diverse enough to provide comparisons to other bell-weather states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, maybe even states like Texas where the dissatisfaction among women voters are likely going to make things look very bad for the Republican label. The results are going to matter because there are a lot of other states that can reflect the same response against the Republicans.
Hell, this is a key element in the New York City Mayoral race where a liberal Democrat (De Blasio) is running about a 40-point advantage over a Republican challenger (Lhota) where De Blasio's accusations that Lhota is a Tea Partier is working to full effect... even though Lhota as a New Englander Republican is actually pretty moderate. The polling has 4 out of 10 New York Republicans opposed to the Republican Party. That level of abandonment against their own party is unheard of in today's GOP: This is how toxic the Republicans are right now to themselves. Just how toxic do you think they'll be to the independent voters?
And they don't care about that. The Far Right GOP are going to keep doing this until they gain control of the federal government AND until they wreck it, break it down to a small enough size to drown in Grover Norquist's bathtub.
This Long October won't end until November 2014, when I hope to God enough people vote the Republicans out of power for good. Until then... keep working. Get the vote out.
God Help Us. And stop voting for Republicans.